Limiting industrial carbon dioxide emissions in China has halted work in two-thirds of Shaanxi's fifty magnesium plants, while the rest of the factories will be required to halve production. As a result, in the next six months, the global market may face a deficit, hitting the European automotive industry particularly hard. The German Non-Ferrous Metals Association (WVM) calls on the German government to begin negotiations with China to increase magnesium supplies to Europe.
The global average price for Australian coal jumped from $83 per tonne in December 2020 to $186 per tonne in August 2021. Over the first eight months of this year, Australia’s coal exports grew to approximately $23.6B, rising by +12% compared to the figures of the same period of 2020. Last year, exports dropped by -32% y-o-y in volume terms, as China sharply reduced its purchases and the average coal price declined significantly. Japan tops the importer ranking regarding the volume of supplies imported from Australia. In 2020, exports to Japan dropped slightly in physical terms, while shipments to Viet Nam soared.
The global cadmium market is estimated at $122M for 2020. While the battery industry is currently the main application for cadmium, the expanding demand from the cadmium telluride battery industry could provide a powerful boost to the market for the metal. Technological improvements and the introduction of new capacities for recycling solar cells will become an urgent need for the next decade and an attractive area for investment.
China leads in global sulphur imports, with a 28%-share of the total supplies. This year, Chinese sulphur purchases from abroad have shown a sign of recovery after a deep drop last year. In the first four months of 2021, Chinese imports accounted for $455M against $164M in the same period of 2020. Chinese sulphur purchases fell from $1.3B in 2019 to $0.6B in 2020. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Iran constitute the largest suppliers to China, with a 49%-share of total import value.
In September 2021, the price for Guinean bauxite in China reached its highest point in 18 months. The military coup in Guinea has caused concerns that shipments from the country will decrease and instigated the spike. Guinea is the world’s primary bauxite supplier, making up more than half of all exports. In case there is a decline in supply from Guinea, China may expand imports from Australia. An increase in bauxite prices could lead to costs for aluminum on China’s domestic market to grow as the country imports nearly 57% of the bauxite it consumes.
Global imports of bitumen and asphalt went down by -15% y-o-y to 2.1M tonnes in 2020. In value terms, imports dropped to $918M. America holds leadership in global imports of bitumen and asphalt. The U.S., Romania, China and France were among the few countries that managed to ramp up import supplies. The average bitumen and asphalt import price grew by +15% y-o-y to $427 per tonne in 2020. Indonesia dominates the Chinese imports, while Greece, Canada and Spain provide the bulk of bitumen and asphalt imported to the U.S.
Feldspar exports from Turkey soared in the first half of this year, rising by 43% against the same period of 2020. The country remains the largest feldspar exporter, accounting for 63% of the total global exports. India and China continue to increase feldspar sales abroad. The average feldspar export price grew by +2.4% compared to the previous year. In 2020, Spain and Italy remain the major importers of this product, with a combined 53%-share of the global imports.
Tin prices rose to record levels in response to high demand from the electronics industry and a severe supply shortage on the market. The deficit has been driven on by pandemic-related decreases in mining output in 2020, the shipping container crisis and a drop in exports due to supply-chain disruptions. Prices are forecast to fall only in 2022 thanks to ramped-up mining output and supply and demand returning to equilibrium.
In 2020, the decline in the global coal market gathered momentum, against the Covid-19 pandemic. The low cost of natural gas, combined with the development of alternative energy sources and stricter environmental regulations, are pushing the coal energy sector into stagnation. In the medium term, only the metallurgical industry is set to see a stable demand for coal.