SHANGHAI Chinas imports of high-carbon ferrochrome fell in May to their lowest level since September as domestic market prices remained decoupled from the international market.
Inbound shipments of high-carbon ferrochrome totaled 88,409 tonnes in May, down 20.4 percent from the previous month and 16.4 percent lower than May last year, according to Chinese customs data released June 21.
Market participants had expected imports to remain below the 100,000-tonne mark, with domestic and international prices removed from each other.
The Metal Bulletin charge chrome index was at 89 cents per pound c.i.f. Shanghai June 14, while Chinese steel mills were paying 83 to 85 cents in the local market.
Chrome ore prices, however, have remained firm, triggering purchase cuts by Chinese importers and smelters in May. Imports of chrome ore and concentrate totaled 922,419 tonnes last month, down 28.9 percent from April but up 11.9 percent from a year earlier.
South Africa was the top exporter of ferrochrome to China, supplying 44,440 tonnes in May, down 31.5 percent from the previous month and 38.2 percent lower than May last year. It also was the biggest supplier of chrome ore to China at 613,736 tonnes, down 22.8 percent from April but 35.1 percent higher than a year earlier.
Kazakhstan was the second-biggest supplier of ferrochrome in May at 33,458 tonnes, up 20.9 percent from the previous month and 48.5 percent higher than May last year, while Turkey was the second-largest supplier of chrome ore at 67,482 tonnes, down 62.2 percent from April and 36.6 percent lower than a year earlier.
Most steel mills in China have left their July purchases of high-carbon ferrochrome unchanged from this month as steel demand concerns in summer and high production in the local market continue to weigh on sentiment.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.