NEW YORK Silicomanganese prices have inched up on reportedly higher spot and first-quarter business, with some sources claiming a tightening market due to ongoing power issues in South Africa and continued uncertainty over the future of Felman Production LLC.
AMMs silicomanganese price increased to 52 to 54 cents per pound Dec. 5 from 51 to 53 cents previously.
"It seems that the silicomanganese market is getting very exciting. Other tenders that have been decided have been (done so) at above current market prices, and we booked some business ourselves around the 53- to 54-cent-(per-pound) levels for first quarter," one trader said.
While Letart, W.Va.-based Felmans idled plant in New Haven, W.Va., has had a more immediate impact, South African power issues could crimp supply in early 2014, sources said.
"The issue with Eskom (Holdings SOC Ltd.) is more serious than theyve been telling the market. Theres a buyback program in place and theyre quietly asking some producers to extend it," the first trader said.
South African state power provider Eskom showed a red power alert on its website Dec. 6, meaning "electricity supply is under severe strain,"and in late November requested "sustained energy savings" of at least 10 percent from private and industrial consumers.
"The (power) problems (in South Africa) continue. You will see more mandatory, short-term shutdowns (for alloy producers)," a second trader said.
For the first 10 months of the year, South Africa shipped 52,956 tonnes of silicomanganese to the United States out of total inflows of 269,643 tonnes, according to Commerce Department figures.
However, one consumer, who said he completed some 2014 silicomanganese business recently at a firm number below current market prices, disagreed that there was a supply crimp.
"Weve been offered ample tons," he said.