SHANGHAI Chinas manganese ore imports increased significantly last month as traders actively imported the raw material after prices climbed at the beginning of the year.
Manganese ore and concentrate imports totaled 1.39 million tonnes in March, up 40.2 percent from the same month last year and 49.4 percent ahead of February, Chinese customs data showed.
"The cargoes that arrived in March were booked in late January and February. Prices at that time were high, so traders bought actively," an importer from Shenzhen told AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin. Some February cargoes were delayed until March because of the Chinese New Year holiday, he added.
Manganese ore prices rose in the second half of January and February on tight availability of lump ore in the spot market. Metal Bulletins index of 38-percent manganese ore f.o.b. Port Elizabeth, South Africa, increased nearly 5 percent from mid-January to $4.46 per metric ton unit (mtu) on March 1, while the index for 44-percent manganese ore c.i.f. Shanghai rose 3 percent to $5.69 per mtu.
"I think imports in April will drop as Chinese spot prices have declined after so many cargoes arrived. Overseas miners offers are still holding," a Shanghai analyst said.
South Africa was the biggest supplier in March, shipping 484,462 tonnes to China, 146.4 percent higher than in March 2012 and up 140 percent from the previous month.
Australia was the second-biggest supplier at 411,082 tonnes, 22.8 percent higher than a year ago and up 5.9 percent from February.