Japan Chemical Trading Blog

The latest chemical trading industry insights from Japan, Asia and the world, reported by the President of Daishin Corporation, Masa Oguchi.

RECENT LITHIUM TRENDS

Recently in Japan, while shares have been rising due to the effects of the monetary easing measures of the Bank of Japan, the actual economy seems to still be struggling.
Throughout the world, the prices of many base metals and minor metals, which we handle, have been dropping as well, perhaps owing to the effects of the economic slump in Europe and China.
Nevertheless, the price of lithium (lithium carbonate) has been rising.
Needless to say, lithium’s usage in lithium-ion batteries is focused upon; the demand for lithium-ion batteries is about 14,000 tons, against 18,000 tons for the total domestic demand in Japan, showing a high growth rate during these years (estimated figures in 2014).
According to the United States Geological Survey, about 35,000 tons of lithium is produced in the world (Li, 2013); an oligopoly market is shared by three big makers: SQM (Chile) Rockwood Lithium (former Chemetall, Germany) and FMC (U.S.A.), which know the way of impurity separation to use salt water from salt lakes as raw material,.

As we mentioned before, Sumitomo Metal Mining is reinforcing its production facilities of lithium nickelate for positive-electrode material for lithium-ion batteries for Panasonic. The website of Sumitomo Metal Mining reports as follows: they anticipated a further increase of lithium-ion battery demand for the 4-door sedan, “Model S” of Tesla Motors of the U.S., so they invested 4.8 billion Japanese yen (approx. USD 48 million) by the summer in 2014 to increase the production of lithium nickelate from 300 tons to 850 tons a month and they will further increase the production from 850 tons to 1,850 tons a month, at 15 billion Japanese yen (approx. USD 150 million), by the winter of this year.

We are not sure whether or not the demand for Panasonic lithium-ion batteries will increase in the future; however, we are sure that the quantity of lithium Japan imports will increase for the moment.
That’s why we checked the customs clearance statistics of Japan (lithium carbonate) and found out, as we expected, the quantity of lithium Japan imported in 2014 rose to 12,107 tons from 8,215 tons in 2013; a 47% rise.
The unit price in 2014 has increased as well compared to that in 2013 and the unit price in 2015 is still higher (JPY 527 per kg in 2013, JPY 544 per kg in 2014, JPY 617 per kg in 2015).
FMC, U.S., declares on its website that they raised the lithium salts price by 10%, including lithium carbonate, as of December 1. The website also says “The increases are necessary to offset continued rising costs of raw materials and operational cost pressures at our Argentina facility.” We interpret this as international demand is becoming tighter because big consumers such as China, Korea and Japan need it more and more.

In the industry, SQM in Chile is rumored to not be producing enough lithium, therefore, people are feeling uneasy.
There are some factors to ease the supply and demand balance; a new lithium carbonate project in Salar de Olaroz, Argentina, which Toyota Tsusho Corp., Japan, has been developing since 2010.
The website of the company says it will start full-scale production of lithium in late 2014; 17,500 tons a year, in the initial plan.
It seems there is no detailed publicity of the current status of the project as of now; 17,500 tons can cope with the domestic demand of Japan, so that its actual shipment may become one of the factors to ease the supply and demand balance.
Those subscribers who are in the lithium salts business should watch the Toyota Tsusho project.

RECENT LITHIUM TRENDS

Recently in Japan, while shares have been rising due to the effects of the monetary easing measures of the Bank of Japan, the actual economy seems to still be struggling.
Throughout the world, the prices of many base metals and minor metals, which we handle, have been dropping as well, perhaps owing to the effects of the economic slump in Europe and China.
Nevertheless, the price of lithium (lithium carbonate) has been rising.
Needless to say, lithium’s usage in lithium-ion batteries is focused upon; the demand for lithium-ion batteries is about 14,000 tons, against 18,000 tons for the total domestic demand in Japan, showing a high growth rate during these years (estimated figures in 2014).
According to the United States Geological Survey, about 35,000 tons of lithium is produced in the world (Li, 2013); an oligopoly market is shared by three big makers: SQM (Chile) Rockwood Lithium (former Chemetall, Germany) and FMC (U.S.A.), which know the way of impurity separation to use salt water from salt lakes as raw material,.

As we mentioned before, Sumitomo Metal Mining is reinforcing its production facilities of lithium nickelate for positive-electrode material for lithium-ion batteries for Panasonic. The website of Sumitomo Metal Mining reports as follows: they anticipated a further increase of lithium-ion battery demand for the 4-door sedan, “Model S” of Tesla Motors of the U.S., so they invested 4.8 billion Japanese yen (approx. USD 48 million) by the summer in 2014 to increase the production of lithium nickelate from 300 tons to 850 tons a month and they will further increase the production from 850 tons to 1,850 tons a month, at 15 billion Japanese yen (approx. USD 150 million), by the winter of this year.

We are not sure whether or not the demand for Panasonic lithium-ion batteries will increase in the future; however, we are sure that the quantity of lithium Japan imports will increase for the moment.
That’s why we checked the customs clearance statistics of Japan (lithium carbonate) and found out, as we expected, the quantity of lithium Japan imported in 2014 rose to 12,107 tons from 8,215 tons in 2013; a 47% rise.
The unit price in 2014 has increased as well compared to that in 2013 and the unit price in 2015 is still higher (JPY 527 per kg in 2013, JPY 544 per kg in 2014, JPY 617 per kg in 2015).
FMC, U.S., declares on its website that they raised the lithium salts price by 10%, including lithium carbonate, as of December 1. The website also says “The increases are necessary to offset continued rising costs of raw materials and operational cost pressures at our Argentina facility.” We interpret this as international demand is becoming tighter because big consumers such as China, Korea and Japan need it more and more.

In the industry, SQM in Chile is rumored to not be producing enough lithium, therefore, people are feeling uneasy.
There are some factors to ease the supply and demand balance; a new lithium carbonate project in Salar de Olaroz, Argentina, which Toyota Tsusho Corp., Japan, has been developing since 2010.
The website of the company says it will start full-scale production of lithium in late 2014; 17,500 tons a year, in the initial plan.
It seems there is no detailed publicity of the current status of the project as of now; 17,500 tons can cope with the domestic demand of Japan, so that its actual shipment may become one of the factors to ease the supply and demand balance.
Those subscribers who are in the lithium salts business should watch the Toyota Tsusho project.

Tin prices fall

Tin has been used widely from ancient times; bronze is a mixture of copper and tin widely used during the Bronze Age, which started around 3,500 BCE.
Bronze has the merits of a lower melting point and becoming harder than copper because it contains tin, which has a low melting point (232 degrees centigrade).
However, tin consumption decreased when iron, which is cheaper and harder than bronze, started to be widely used; then, recently, increasing production of tin plates or tinned iron plates, since iron is apt to rust by itself, augmented the demand for tin.
Tinned iron plates don’t rust easily since tin has a smaller ionization tendency, so it is hard to melt.

As it was recognized as a militarily important material, international cartels were formed to strategically stock it and to maintain a steady supply to the market.
Because of its high price, substitutes have been aggressively developed, so long-term demand for tin has dropped. For instance, plastic bottles, cartons and aluminum have caused tin plate demand to lose ground in the field of drink containers.
Presently, the demand for tin in tin plates is about 15 to 20% of the total amount.
But demand for tin itself has been increasing again as a substitute for lead due to the recent lead-free trend. For example, tin has been increasingly required to be used in lead-free solder instead of lead, which, with its low melting point, used to be raw solder material in the electronics industry. Around 50 to 60% of the total production is for solder.
It is used in organic tin compound (10 to 15%) for vinyl chloride stabilizers and ITO, a compound with indium, used as transparent electrodes in liquid crystal panels.

The website of Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless Steel Corporation reports that it has implemented a breakthrough technology that drastically improves the corrosion resistance of ferritic (chromium-based) stainless steel by adding a tiny amount of tin (Sn) and, based on this technology, it developed the world’s first Sn-added high-purity ferritic stainless steel, “FW series,” which improves corrosion resistance while improving workability as well by decreasing the amount of chromium (Cr), the element of stainless steel. We expect demand will increase in the future.

China and Indonesia are the main producers, accounting for about 70% of global production. Large-scale mines are scattered throughout the world: Southeast Asia, China, South America and Australia. Ores are beginning to be exported from Myanmar, where sanctions have just been lifted, to China. In addition, Australia, Peru, Bolivia, Russia and African countries are said to be developing mines and increasing production.
A medium-term prospective says demand may exceed supply; however, prices have been down recently and LME, one of the world’s major indexes, posted its lowest price in two and a half years on March 2nd.

We export to the world high-quality tin compounds, including stannic chloride, stannic oxide, stannous chloride, stannous sulfate, potassium stannate, sodium stannate, stannous fluoroborate, and stannous pyrophosphate. We have fewer inquiries nowadays except for catalysts for medical purposes, possibly due to price decreases, so business is slow. Nevertheless, tin is a metal whose price has traditionally changed greatly and we have to constantly monitor how major producers such as Indonesia move.

Tin prices fall

Tin has been used widely from ancient times; bronze is a mixture of copper and tin widely used during the Bronze Age, which started around 3,500 BCE.
Bronze has the merits of a lower melting point and becoming harder than copper because it contains tin, which has a low melting point (232 degrees centigrade).
However, tin consumption decreased when iron, which is cheaper and harder than bronze, started to be widely used; then, recently, increasing production of tin plates or tinned iron plates, since iron is apt to rust by itself, augmented the demand for tin.
Tinned iron plates don’t rust easily since tin has a smaller ionization tendency, so it is hard to melt.

As it was recognized as a militarily important material, international cartels were formed to strategically stock it and to maintain a steady supply to the market.
Because of its high price, substitutes have been aggressively developed, so long-term demand for tin has dropped. For instance, plastic bottles, cartons and aluminum have caused tin plate demand to lose ground in the field of drink containers.
Presently, the demand for tin in tin plates is about 15 to 20% of the total amount.
But demand for tin itself has been increasing again as a substitute for lead due to the recent lead-free trend. For example, tin has been increasingly required to be used in lead-free solder instead of lead, which, with its low melting point, used to be raw solder material in the electronics industry. Around 50 to 60% of the total production is for solder.
It is used in organic tin compound (10 to 15%) for vinyl chloride stabilizers and ITO, a compound with indium, used as transparent electrodes in liquid crystal panels.

The website of Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless Steel Corporation reports that it has implemented a breakthrough technology that drastically improves the corrosion resistance of ferritic (chromium-based) stainless steel by adding a tiny amount of tin (Sn) and, based on this technology, it developed the world’s first Sn-added high-purity ferritic stainless steel, “FW series,” which improves corrosion resistance while improving workability as well by decreasing the amount of chromium (Cr), the element of stainless steel. We expect demand will increase in the future.

China and Indonesia are the main producers, accounting for about 70% of global production. Large-scale mines are scattered throughout the world: Southeast Asia, China, South America and Australia. Ores are beginning to be exported from Myanmar, where sanctions have just been lifted, to China. In addition, Australia, Peru, Bolivia, Russia and African countries are said to be developing mines and increasing production.
A medium-term prospective says demand may exceed supply; however, prices have been down recently and LME, one of the world’s major indexes, posted its lowest price in two and a half years on March 2nd.

We export to the world high-quality tin compounds, including stannic chloride, stannic oxide, stannous chloride, stannous sulfate, potassium stannate, sodium stannate, stannous fluoroborate, and stannous pyrophosphate. We have fewer inquiries nowadays except for catalysts for medical purposes, possibly due to price decreases, so business is slow. Nevertheless, tin is a metal whose price has traditionally changed greatly and we have to constantly monitor how major producers such as Indonesia move.

Nickel Shortage, 12 Thousand Tons in 2015

According to the Japan Metal Bulletin on January 30, 2015, Sumitomo Metal Mining revised its worldwide nickel supply and demand prediction for the calendar year 2015 to be a supply shortage of 12 thousand tons, reducing the shortage from the previous prediction of 32 thousand tons.

Nickel is a rare metal used for stainless steel, plating, batteries and catalysts, and is produced mainly in Australia, Russia, Canada, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Recently, the Ambatovy Nickel project in Madagascar, jointly run by Canada, Korea and Japan, is nearing full production (60 thousand tons a year) and will contribute to an increase in the global production amount.
Other new projects such as in New Caledonia (Goro Nickel, 60 thousand tons a year), Brazil (Onca Puma, 50 thousand tons a year) and the Philippines (Taganito, 30 thousand a year) have also increased production.
As for demand, China tops the list as the main consuming country (a thousand tons a year), followed by the U.S., Japan, Germany and Korea.

Recently, nickel demand has been globally increasing, especially in China, primarily for stainless steel and special alloys.
Panasonic announced that its lithium-ion battery to be sold for the “Model S” electric car of Tesla Motors of the U.S., which has a longer cruising distance than previous electric cars (500 kilometers when fully charged), uses nickel as a positive-electrode material.
Sumitomo Metal Mining, as the provider of its material, Lithium Nickelate, is investing 15 billion yen in its production facilities, increasing output from 850 tons to 1,850 tons to cope with this demand expansion.
New facilities are scheduled to be completed in December 2015. (Sumitomo Metal Mining supply Lithium Nickelate to Panasonic and Panasonic supply lithium-ion battery to Tesla Motors.)

With these actions, even though the above new projects are operating successfully and also China has increased production, a nickel shortage is anticipated in 2015, a reversal from a projected surplus in 2014.
The projected supply in 2015 is 1,990 thousand tons against 1,961 thousand tons in the 2014 projection.
Projected demand in 2015 is 2,002 thousand tons against 1,925 thousand tons in the 2014 projection.
Therefore, some say that the prices will about-turn and rise when the Chinese ore inventory runs out; however, the actual prices keep falling and the nickel inventory of the London Metal Exchange (LME) is continuing at a record high level of over 420 thousand tons.
We sell nickel compounds made in Japan, including nickel acetate, nickel carbonate, nickel chloride, nickel hydroxide, nickel nitrate, nickel sulfamate and nickel sulfate to our customers all over the world, and we have a steady stream of inquiries from overseas, helped by a weaker Japanese yen.

The prices of natural resources have fallen sharply, with crude oil at the top of the list; nevertheless, I don’t predict that the value of infinite resources will drop over the mid and long term as long as the world’s population keeps increasing, people keep aspiring for a high-quality life and technological innovation continues.

Nickel Shortage, 12 Thousand Tons in 2015

According to the Japan Metal Bulletin on January 30, 2015, Sumitomo Metal Mining revised its worldwide nickel supply and demand prediction for the calendar year 2015 to be a supply shortage of 12 thousand tons, reducing the shortage from the previous prediction of 32 thousand tons.

Nickel is a rare metal used for stainless steel, plating, batteries and catalysts, and is produced mainly in Australia, Russia, Canada, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Recently, the Ambatovy Nickel project in Madagascar, jointly run by Canada, Korea and Japan, is nearing full production (60 thousand tons a year) and will contribute to an increase in the global production amount.
Other new projects such as in New Caledonia (Goro Nickel, 60 thousand tons a year), Brazil (Onca Puma, 50 thousand tons a year) and the Philippines (Taganito, 30 thousand a year) have also increased production.
As for demand, China tops the list as the main consuming country (a thousand tons a year), followed by the U.S., Japan, Germany and Korea.

Recently, nickel demand has been globally increasing, especially in China, primarily for stainless steel and special alloys.
Panasonic announced that its lithium-ion battery to be sold for the “Model S” electric car of Tesla Motors of the U.S., which has a longer cruising distance than previous electric cars (500 kilometers when fully charged), uses nickel as a positive-electrode material.
Sumitomo Metal Mining, as the provider of its material, Lithium Nickelate, is investing 15 billion yen in its production facilities, increasing output from 850 tons to 1,850 tons to cope with this demand expansion.
New facilities are scheduled to be completed in December 2015. (Sumitomo Metal Mining supply Lithium Nickelate to Panasonic and Panasonic supply lithium-ion battery to Tesla Motors.)

With these actions, even though the above new projects are operating successfully and also China has increased production, a nickel shortage is anticipated in 2015, a reversal from a projected surplus in 2014.
The projected supply in 2015 is 1,990 thousand tons against 1,961 thousand tons in the 2014 projection.
Projected demand in 2015 is 2,002 thousand tons against 1,925 thousand tons in the 2014 projection.
Therefore, some say that the prices will about-turn and rise when the Chinese ore inventory runs out; however, the actual prices keep falling and the nickel inventory of the London Metal Exchange (LME) is continuing at a record high level of over 420 thousand tons.
We sell nickel compounds made in Japan, including nickel acetate, nickel carbonate, nickel chloride, nickel hydroxide, nickel nitrate, nickel sulfamate and nickel sulfate to our customers all over the world, and we have a steady stream of inquiries from overseas, helped by a weaker Japanese yen.

The prices of natural resources have fallen sharply, with crude oil at the top of the list; nevertheless, I don’t predict that the value of infinite resources will drop over the mid and long term as long as the world’s population keeps increasing, people keep aspiring for a high-quality life and technological innovation continues.

Indium Prices Down

Nowadays, I report on more and more price-down news, whether it is organic chemical products or others.
Today, I am reporting about indium.

Indium is a soft, silver-white rare metal, produced as a by-product of zinc.
It is processed into indium tin oxide (standard configuration: 90% In2O3, 10% SnO2, commonly known as ITO), which is used as a target material in the production of LCDs, touch screens, solar cells, and organic ELs.
There are other metals that have better conductivity than indium; however, it also features transparency in the form of thin film. Recently, the demand for indium to be used in the above-mentioned final products which require these features has increased.
It also has excellent malleability and ductility and is not subject to RoHS, so it can be used as lead-free solder material as well.

Toyoha Mine (Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan), a subsidiary of Nippon Mining (currently JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corporation), used to produce the most indium in the world, but the mine closed in 2006 because of minable ore depletion (the immediate cause of closure was that the company couldn’t use any more dynamite for blasting purposes because of geothermal energy activities).
Indium is now produced by Dowa Metals & Mining, which has the largest zinc smelter in Japan, and other companies such as Sumitomo Metal Mining, Mitsui Mining & Smelting, JX Nippon Mining & Metals, Mitsubishi Materials, Shinko Chemical and Asahi Pretec.

Globally speaking, in recent years, China is the biggest metal producing country.
Approximately 700 tons a year of virgin base metal are produced in the world.
Demand from Japan used to be by far the biggest (80% of it was for ITO target material), but it has been dropping since around 2012 because of many reasons such as progress in recycling, the market share increase of other countries’ products (e.g., Samsung Corning, Korea) associated with the declining competitiveness of Japanese manufacturers, international relocation of the production bases of Japanese companies, diffusion of substitutes, etc.
As for the prices, Japan Metal Bulletin reported on January 27 that the market rates of low grade indium for solder and alloy are 76,000 Japanese yen to 81,000 Japanese yen.

Though indium prices continue to fall globally, the prices in Japan have been rather stable as a weak yen offsets dollar price falls.
Nevertheless, indium prices in Japan may drop in the future since the Chinese market has been soft and has dropped more than 25% since November, and the prices on the London Metal Bulletin continued to fall on January 28 from USD640 to USD550 per kilogram.
Since this anticipation of low prices may bring restrained buying, many people expect the indium market to continue to fall unless the sense of uncertainty in the world economy diminishes.

Indium Prices Down

Nowadays, I report on more and more price-down news, whether it is organic chemical products or others.
Today, I am reporting about indium.

Indium is a soft, silver-white rare metal, produced as a by-product of zinc.
It is processed into indium tin oxide (standard configuration: 90% In2O3, 10% SnO2, commonly known as ITO), which is used as a target material in the production of LCDs, touch screens, solar cells, and organic ELs.
There are other metals that have better conductivity than indium; however, it also features transparency in the form of thin film. Recently, the demand for indium to be used in the above-mentioned final products which require these features has increased.
It also has excellent malleability and ductility and is not subject to RoHS, so it can be used as lead-free solder material as well.

Toyoha Mine (Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan), a subsidiary of Nippon Mining (currently JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corporation), used to produce the most indium in the world, but the mine closed in 2006 because of minable ore depletion (the immediate cause of closure was that the company couldn’t use any more dynamite for blasting purposes because of geothermal energy activities).
Indium is now produced by Dowa Metals & Mining, which has the largest zinc smelter in Japan, and other companies such as Sumitomo Metal Mining, Mitsui Mining & Smelting, JX Nippon Mining & Metals, Mitsubishi Materials, Shinko Chemical and Asahi Pretec.

Globally speaking, in recent years, China is the biggest metal producing country.
Approximately 700 tons a year of virgin base metal are produced in the world.
Demand from Japan used to be by far the biggest (80% of it was for ITO target material), but it has been dropping since around 2012 because of many reasons such as progress in recycling, the market share increase of other countries’ products (e.g., Samsung Corning, Korea) associated with the declining competitiveness of Japanese manufacturers, international relocation of the production bases of Japanese companies, diffusion of substitutes, etc.
As for the prices, Japan Metal Bulletin reported on January 27 that the market rates of low grade indium for solder and alloy are 76,000 Japanese yen to 81,000 Japanese yen.

Though indium prices continue to fall globally, the prices in Japan have been rather stable as a weak yen offsets dollar price falls.
Nevertheless, indium prices in Japan may drop in the future since the Chinese market has been soft and has dropped more than 25% since November, and the prices on the London Metal Bulletin continued to fall on January 28 from USD640 to USD550 per kilogram.
Since this anticipation of low prices may bring restrained buying, many people expect the indium market to continue to fall unless the sense of uncertainty in the world economy diminishes.

Bismuth Price Drop

Recently we often hear about price drops, and today’s story is about bismuth.

Bismuth is a metal with a silver gray color, and because its melting point is 271.5 ºC, low as a metal, it is used as a low melting point alloy.
Recently, the demand of bismuth as a substitute for lead such as lead-free soldering material is increasing.

The major index in Europe, Metal Bulletin price has greatly dropped to USD10 per kg from the level of USD12 per kg in September-October.
This is from the downfall trend in crude oil and other nonferrous metals prices.

The increase of the bismuth stock at the Chinese rare metals stock exchange “The Fanya Metal Exchange” to exceed China’s annual consumption is also considered to be one of the causes, and in addition to that, the rumor that the Chinese Government authority carried out an on-site inspection at the Fanya Exchange in the middle of November also possibly influenced the market psychology.

Bismuth Price Drop

Recently we often hear about price drops, and today’s story is about bismuth.

Bismuth is a metal with a silver gray color, and because its melting point is 271.5 ºC, low as a metal, it is used as a low melting point alloy.
Recently, the demand of bismuth as a substitute for lead such as lead-free soldering material is increasing.

The major index in Europe, Metal Bulletin price has greatly dropped to USD10 per kg from the level of USD12 per kg in September-October.
This is from the downfall trend in crude oil and other nonferrous metals prices.

The increase of the bismuth stock at the Chinese rare metals stock exchange “The Fanya Metal Exchange” to exceed China’s annual consumption is also considered to be one of the causes, and in addition to that, the rumor that the Chinese Government authority carried out an on-site inspection at the Fanya Exchange in the middle of November also possibly influenced the market psychology.

Benzene price decreases widely

According to an announcement by JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation dated November 4, the contract price of benzene for November for Asia has been determined as USD1,095/t, down by USD105 from the month before.

Benzene is a basic petrochemical used as a raw material for resin and adhesive and is one of the aromatic compounds produced from cracked gasoline derived from naphtha.
JX is a price leader of this product in Asia.
Since shale gas hardly produces any benzene, the production of benzene is on the decline in the U.S.

JX commented as follows: “the balance is well maintained because of an increase in exports to the U.S. due to production curtailment by paraxylene manufacturers”.
However, looking at the condition of the Asian market, demand in benzene has no momentum, and recently, the price in the U.S. is also said to be decreasing.
The contract price of JX has dropped below UDS1,100 for the first time in 2 years and 4 months, since July 2012.

Benzene price decreases widely

According to an announcement by JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation dated November 4, the contract price of benzene for November for Asia has been determined as USD1,095/t, down by USD105 from the month before.

Benzene is a basic petrochemical used as a raw material for resin and adhesive and is one of the aromatic compounds produced from cracked gasoline derived from naphtha.
JX is a price leader of this product in Asia.
Since shale gas hardly produces any benzene, the production of benzene is on the decline in the U.S.

JX commented as follows: “the balance is well maintained because of an increase in exports to the U.S. due to production curtailment by paraxylene manufacturers”.
However, looking at the condition of the Asian market, demand in benzene has no momentum, and recently, the price in the U.S. is also said to be decreasing.
The contract price of JX has dropped below UDS1,100 for the first time in 2 years and 4 months, since July 2012.

Drop in Tellurium Prices

According to a Metal Bulletin (MB) report dated October 29, tellurium prices have dropped by USD10/kg from USD125-145/kg last week to USD115-135/kg.
In the Chinese free market, the tellurium price has also dropped by approximately 10%.

Tellurium is a rare metal that is used as a raw material for thin-film solar cells in the form of cadmium telluride.
It is also used for Peltier devices, optical lens and semiconductors, etc.
Cadmium telluride-type solar cells are often used in Europe and the United States because of their cost competitiveness.
However, they are not commonly used in Japan as they contain cadmium, a harmful substance.
MB announces the official tellurium price every Wednesday and Friday, and the price of tellurium dropped for the first time in 10 months since last December.

According to an industrial rumor, 5N Plus, the biggest tellurium consumer, has refrained from purchasing tellurium from at least 2 months ago.
5N Plus is one of the largest global manufacturers of high-purity minor metals and supplies cadmium telluride (CdTe) to First Solar, a leading manufacturer of cadmium telluride (CdTe)-type solar cell modules.
5N Plus renewed its contract with First Solar in May this year for the exclusive supply and recycling of CdTe until 2019 and, at that time, this news also contributed to the increase in the price of tellurium.

Drop in Tellurium Prices

According to a Metal Bulletin (MB) report dated October 29, tellurium prices have dropped by USD10/kg from USD125-145/kg last week to USD115-135/kg.
In the Chinese free market, the tellurium price has also dropped by approximately 10%.

Tellurium is a rare metal that is used as a raw material for thin-film solar cells in the form of cadmium telluride.
It is also used for Peltier devices, optical lens and semiconductors, etc.
Cadmium telluride-type solar cells are often used in Europe and the United States because of their cost competitiveness.
However, they are not commonly used in Japan as they contain cadmium, a harmful substance.
MB announces the official tellurium price every Wednesday and Friday, and the price of tellurium dropped for the first time in 10 months since last December.

According to an industrial rumor, 5N Plus, the biggest tellurium consumer, has refrained from purchasing tellurium from at least 2 months ago.
5N Plus is one of the largest global manufacturers of high-purity minor metals and supplies cadmium telluride (CdTe) to First Solar, a leading manufacturer of cadmium telluride (CdTe)-type solar cell modules.
5N Plus renewed its contract with First Solar in May this year for the exclusive supply and recycling of CdTe until 2019 and, at that time, this news also contributed to the increase in the price of tellurium.

Nickel Price Fall

The nickel price is falling.
The bullion price at the London Metal Exchange (LME), that temporarily increased from about USD 14,000 per ton to more than USD 20,000 in February due to the Indonesian ore supply suspension, has been in a downward trend for the last one month.
The price has fallen from the high price of USD 19,740 per ton in early September to USD 16,300, showing a 17% price decrease in one month.

A vast amount of ore from the Philippines has been supplied to China, Japan and other countries as a substitute of Indonesian ore, and it seems that it is cooling down the market sentiment.
Copper metal prices have also fallen in September.
Just as petrochemicals, a decline trend in the international market of non-ferrous metals has become apparent.

Nickel Price Fall

The nickel price is falling.
The bullion price at the London Metal Exchange (LME), that temporarily increased from about USD 14,000 per ton to more than USD 20,000 in February due to the Indonesian ore supply suspension, has been in a downward trend for the last one month.
The price has fallen from the high price of USD 19,740 per ton in early September to USD 16,300, showing a 17% price decrease in one month.

A vast amount of ore from the Philippines has been supplied to China, Japan and other countries as a substitute of Indonesian ore, and it seems that it is cooling down the market sentiment.
Copper metal prices have also fallen in September.
Just as petrochemicals, a decline trend in the international market of non-ferrous metals has become apparent.

Resource Business Caused Loss to Sumitomo Corporation

On September 29, Sumitomo Corporation announced, “in addition to the impairment loss of JPY 170 billion (Approx USD 1 billion and 7 hundred million) in the US shale oil development project, the losses of the Australian coal project (JPY 30 billion (Approx USD 3 hundred million)), Brazil iron ore project (JPY 50 billion (Approx USD 5 hundred million)), the US tire project (JPY 20 billion (Approx USD 2 hundred million)) make the total of JPY 270 billion (Approx USD 2 billion and 7 hundred million) loss in this period”.

Traditionally the company’s area of expertise has laid in the non-resource business, while the resource business was dominated by Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsui & Co., who were early movers to acquire resource rights.

Is this a significant loss because of Sumitomo Corporation’s hasty foray into an unfamiliar field?
The focus from now on is if the company will add any further impairment loss.

Resource Business Caused Loss to Sumitomo Corporation

On September 29, Sumitomo Corporation announced, “in addition to the impairment loss of JPY 170 billion (Approx USD 1 billion and 7 hundred million) in the US shale oil development project, the losses of the Australian coal project (JPY 30 billion (Approx USD 3 hundred million)), Brazil iron ore project (JPY 50 billion (Approx USD 5 hundred million)), the US tire project (JPY 20 billion (Approx USD 2 hundred million)) make the total of JPY 270 billion (Approx USD 2 billion and 7 hundred million) loss in this period”.

Traditionally the company’s area of expertise has laid in the non-resource business, while the resource business was dominated by Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsui & Co., who were early movers to acquire resource rights.

Is this a significant loss because of Sumitomo Corporation’s hasty foray into an unfamiliar field?
The focus from now on is if the company will add any further impairment loss.

UMMC (Russia) Consider Processing Selenium and Tellurium

According to Japan Metal Bulletin on August 11th, “the management of The Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UMMC) proposed to the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation a recovery business of selenium and tellurium from electrolytic copper slime”.

UMMC, based in Verkhnyaya Pyshma, Sverdlovsk Oblast in central west Russia, is a non-ferrous metal manufacturer and the second-largest copper maker in Russia.
Currently its selenium and tellurium smelting process is handled by some overseas companies. With progression of the project, the presence of the Russian company will expand in the selenium and tellurium market.

UMMC (Russia) Consider Processing Selenium and Tellurium

According to Japan Metal Bulletin on August 11th, “the management of The Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UMMC) proposed to the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation a recovery business of selenium and tellurium from electrolytic copper slime”.

UMMC, based in Verkhnyaya Pyshma, Sverdlovsk Oblast in central west Russia, is a non-ferrous metal manufacturer and the second-largest copper maker in Russia.
Currently its selenium and tellurium smelting process is handled by some overseas companies. With progression of the project, the presence of the Russian company will expand in the selenium and tellurium market.