Magnesium prices are flat in thin trading after Chinese New Year celebrations. In China, 99.9-percent min magnesium ingot traded unchanged from last week, between 16,800 and 17,300 renminbi (US$2,690 and $2,770). The price for low-magnesium, battery-grade mischmetal was also flat at 150,000 to 160,000 renminbi (US$24,024 to $25,626) per metric ton (MT).

“Some consumers have returned from holiday and are opting to use stocks instead of taking in material,” a producer from Shanxi province told Metal-Pages.

An exporter said overseas buyers are also holding off, having concluded orders before the holiday, “so they are not eager to enter the market.”

China’s magnesium alloy exports fell 7 percent in 2012, to 92,318 MT, as per official data cited by Metal-Pages. The country produced 734,000 MT of primary magnesium last year, according to the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association.

In Europe, the debt crisis has put a damper on the economy and buyers have been cautious despite China’s cancellation of its 10-percent export tax at the start of the year.

Prices are flat from a week ago, trading in a range between $2,900 and $2,965 per MT. They show little sign of reversing the downward trajectory they have been on since they traded as high as $3,350 per MT in November and early December.