By continent, the worlds leading producers of ferroalloys are Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and North America. Together, they produced about 36 million tonnes last year. By nation, the leading producers are China (13.5 million tonnes), South Africa (4 million tonnes), Ukraine (1.4 million tonnes), India (1.1 million tonnes), Brazil (890,000 tonnes) and Norway (625,000 tonnes).
Chinas ferroalloys output continues to increase, reaching 7 million tonnes in the first quarter, up 10.5 percent from the same period in 2011, according to Chinas National Bureau of Statistics. In March alone, China saw higher-than-expected growth of 13.1 percent compared with February.
The rise is bigger than we expected. Though (we knew) many smelters resumed work after February, the data also was still high, said Zhang Zengchan, assistant to the president of the China Ferroalloys Association. Production from the chrome and manganese sectorsincluding ferrochrome, manganese alloys and electrolytic manganesecould see a certain amount of growth, he added.
Major ferrochrome producers, and silicomanganese smelters in the northern part of the country, were running at about 70 percent of capacity during the first quarter, a Beijing analyst said, although operating rates of silicomanganese producers in the southern part of the country were still around 20 to 30 percent.
Silicomanganese producers are desperately searching for material in Europe, declaring themselves sold out or even oversold, market participants said. The market tightened in January, when major European producers sold out around the same time that Indian producers agreed to a floor price for material. Production is still constrained, and at least two large producers of silicomanganeseused as a deoxidant and alloy in steel outputare oversold.
Power constraints in South Africa and accompanying production cuts also are contributing to concerns about availability, sources said. In the U.S., its clear South Africa has a very big influence, one producer source said.