Ferrochrome Market - Despite Production Issues, South Africa Beats China in the Global Ferro-Chromium Trade

Basic Iron And Steel August 23, 2015
Author: Olga Minchina
Account Manager

ferrochrome market

Ferro-chromium, or ferrochrome, is an alloy of chromium and iron with chromium content ranging between 50% and 70%. More than 80 percent of ferrochrome is used in stainless steel production globally. It is considered a resource of great importance, as it not only makes stainless steel more durable and corrosion-resistant, but also enhances its appearance. Thus, demand for ferro-chrome closely reflects trends in the stainless steel sector.

China is the world's largest consumer and producer on the ferrochrome market, as well as the global leader in stainless steel production. Robust demand in stainless steel coupled with its relatively inexpensive manufacturing costs, has led to a significant increase in China's domestic ferro-chromium production over the last ten years.

Bereft of chrome ore, the Chinese ferrochrome industry is totally import-dependent on raw material. Even with this, China managed to outpace South Africa, securing the title of the world's leading ferro-chromium producer in 2012. In order to secure raw material supply, Chinese companies have invested in chrome ore operations in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Turkey, Albania, Pakistan and the Philippines.

A restraint in ferro-chromium industry growth in South Africa is, in large part, the result of a serious power crisis, characterized by frequent power shortages and high electricity costs. Smelters were forbidden by the South African power utility from using electricity during peak hours or, frankly, at any other time. This issue is expected to continue for a minimum of another five years. Severe regulations of electricity use accompanied by soaring electricity tariffs have had a tremendously negative impact on the ferro-chromium industry in this country.

Although China dominates in global ferro-chromium production, South Africa takes the lead in the global ferro-chromium trade. In 2014, South Africa exported 95.6% of its total ferro-chromium output. Of this amount, 36.5% was supplied into China, where South Africa's ferro-chromium held 22.5% share of total China's consumption.

In 2014, South Africa and Kazakhstan were the main global suppliers of ferro-chromium with a combined share of 71.0% of global exports. However, the fastest growing suppliers from 2007 to 2014 were Zimbabwe (+39% per year) and Sweden (+53% per year). Despite being the largest global producer of ferro-chromium, China did not export much of its production, meaning that it was either domestically consumed, or put in storage.

In 2014, China (33.0%), Japan (13.1%), the U.S. (11.6%), Italy (5.4%) and Belgium (4.6%) were the leading destinations of ferro-chromium imports, together making up 67.7% of global imports in physical terms. And while the shares of China and the U.S. increased significantly, the shares of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands illustrated negative dynamics. The shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

Do you want to know more about the global ferrochrome market? Get the latest trends and insight from our report. It includes a wide range of statistics on

  • ferrochrome market share
  • ferrochrome prices
  • ferrochrome industry
  • ferrochrome sales
  • ferrochrome market forecast
  • ferrochrome price forecast
  • key ferrochrome producers

Source: World: Ferro-Chromium - Market Report. Analysis and Forecast to 2020