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US ferrochrome suppliers hope for price rise

Keywords: Tags  high-carbon ferrochrome, South Africa, charge chrome, XStrata, Aperam, Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — High-carbon ferrochrome suppliers are hopeful that a reported rise in the second-quarter charge chrome benchmark will spur domestic high-carbon ferrochrome prices, but some are skeptical the reported number was widely accepted.

"This year’s negotiations were a bit of a mess. My understanding is that there is no uniformly agreed price," one trader said.

Luxembourg-based stainless producer Aperam and ferrochrome producer Xstrata Plc, Zug, Switzerland, settled the benchmark at $1.35 per pound, up 20 cents from the first quarter, AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin reported Wednesday.

This marks a change from previous years, when ThyssenKrupp AG stainless unit Inoxum took the lead in consumer-side negotiations, and there are some doubts as to whether the company would accept a benchmark negotiated by other parties.

Even with the questions over the new number, the rise in the reported benchmark has suppliers hopeful of a rise in high-carbon ferrochrome prices, which are at $1.15 to $1.20 per pound.

"One supplier told me he expects us to reach the mid-$1.20s (per pound) in a few weeks on the back of the benchmark going up," a second trader said.

At the same time, South African charge chrome producers have cut capacity due to power supply issues, and at least one domestic supplier bought some high-carbon product in the spot market recently, sources said.

Most domestic charge chrome consumers are locked up in multiyear contracts not affected by the benchmark, while those subjected to it enjoy hefty discounts, sources told AMM.

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