Manganese prices have drifted lower in the past month, with European manganese flake now trading between $2,575 and $2,625 a tonne, down slightly from $2,600 to $2,650. Exports from China are now available for between $2,600 and $2,650 a tonne.
“The market is quiet, although there are signs that prices may go up again soon,” one dealer told Metal-Pages. If that increase materializes, many traders feel it will have a lot to do with events in China, particularly the big drop in the country’s production: over the first seven months of 2012, Chinese exports of unwrought manganese have plunged 29 percent from the same period a year ago.
The production cuts have also helped push up Chinese domestic manganese flake prices marginally, to between RMB12,800 and RMB13,000 (US$2,029 to $2,060). But it’s still difficult for some of the country’s miners to turn a profit because their manganese production costs run as high as RMB13,000.
Another factor that could put upward pressure on prices is China’s latest crackdown on manganese smuggling. Authorities are focusing their efforts on the border with Vietnam, where most of the illegal exports occur.