Mar 19

Chinese brown fused alumina prices hit new high

Brown fused alumina prices in China reached a 1.5-year high this week. The ongoing anti-pollution checks continue to cap production in Henan while scrutiny on export documents is ridding the market of lower offers.

Chinese brown fused alumina spot prices hit a 1.5-year high over the past two weeks as widespread environmental inspections continue to push prices upwards.

Environmental inspectors have moved into Henan province – the main fused alumina producing region in China – since mid-July, and many facilities were compelled to close while the inspections took place.

Randomised anti-pollution checks have been conducted at plants in various parts of the province, which reduced total fused alumina output in the region, at least three local producers told IM.

China is one of the largest fused alumina producers globally and the output cut will impact exports to international refractories and abrasive end markets.

Due to the ongoing production outage, brown fused alumina (BFA) prices have rocketed over the past fortnight, continuing the uptrend that was first identified on 13 July.

“It’s like a roller-coaster: [prices are] rising every two days,” said one Henan-based producer on the price volatility.

Refractory-grade brown fused alumina (BFA) (95% Al2O3 min, 0-6mm) spot prices jumped by an average of $65/tonne to $700-750/tonne FOB China, up from $620-700/tonne a fortnight ago, according to IM’s assessments on 24 August.

Offers for BFA produced from fixed furnace start at the lower end of the range, close to $700, while premium material from tipping or Higgins furnace is priced at the higher-end.

Abrasive-grade material (95% Al2O3 min, Fepa F8-220 Grit) also rose to $780-825/tonne FOB China, up from $730-780/tonne.

Supply of certain grit sizes will continue to be limited due reduced capacity and drawn down inventory, two Henan-based producers said.

“Every little we produce gets taken straightaway. Inventory is zero,” said the first Henan producer.
The producer and another Europe-based distributor have expressed concern about the ability to fulfill supply contracts in the coming months amid the great supply uncertainty.

In contrast, due to sufficient raw material alumina supply, white fused alumina prices remained stable as production was not as badly impacted.

Refractory-grade white fused alumina (99.0% Al2O3 min, in 25kg bags) prices have remained unchanged since 6 April at €700-750/tonne ($820-878/tonne) CIF Europe.

Two Henan-based producers lamented that the higher prices were a direct effect of rising raw material cost, and did not contribute to higher profit margins.

Raw material bottleneck, VAT scrutiny

To further compound supply issue, the prices of graphite electrode, a key component in the kiln for the production of fused alumina, have spiked in recent months.

According to one Chinese producers on 24 August, graphite electrode prices have increased to above Chinese Renminbi (Rmb) 60,000/tonne ($9,003/tonne), up from Rmb 50,000 ($7,502/tonne) in end-July. Note: IM does not track or publish prices of graphite electrode.

Fused alumina producers estimate around 2-23kg of graphite electrode is used to produce every tonne of fused alumina, and the price spike has further supported upticks in this market.

The supply of locally mined high-grade bauxite ore remained restricted, which has further impacted fused alumina production.

Meanwhile, intense scrutiny on export documents by China customs has discouraged any offers that do not include the 17% value-added tax (VAT), a second Henan producer said.

“Now nobody dare go through Hong Kong; it’s too risky,” said the producer.

Buyers could avoid paying the 17% VAT when they route payment through off-shore accounts held in Hong Kong or Shenzhen, hence some sellers often conduct business through this method.

Tax evasion on minerals exports is widely acknowledged as being common in China. Such practices have existed for many years and, although illegal, they were often overlooked by authorities, before the latest crackdown on tax dodgers.

Mar 13

The Role of Granulometry and Additives in Optimising the Alumina Matrix in Low Cement Castables

Fine particles play a major role not only in the flowing characteristics of castables but also in the final properties of the castable in application. To optimise the particle packing of the castable, different kinds of fine aluminas can be used to form the matrix: calcined, semi-reactive, monomodal reactive or multimodal reactive aluminas.

Mar 07

VIII Congreso Nacional de Materiales, Maquinaria y Montaje de Refractarios – Oviedo del 12 al 13 de Junio del 2018

Mar 05

UK ceramics industry calls for anti-dumping measures after Brexit

The UK produces 1 million tonnes per year of kaolin, a raw material of ceramics, which a cross-sector interest group hopes to protect with EU-derived anti-dumping duties following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

The UK ceramics industry is lobbying the UK government to ensure that anti-dumping duties for China based on existing EU rules stay in place post-Brexit to protect the supply chain and preserve jobs.

Tableware and tiles had been most affected among the ceramics industry by cheap Chinese imports until the EU applied a tariff of 13.1-36.1% on those products, which came into force on May 14, 2013.

Kaolin is one of the raw materials in the ceramics production stream, and the UK produces 1 million tpy of the mineral, according to the United States Geological Survey.

Industrial Minerals priced kaolin at $231-241 per tonne for tableware(-45 micron, FCL’s bagged>90 whiteness, fob HaiPhong, Vietnam) on February 13, flat from the previous month.

With the UK set to leave the EU, such EU-enforced protections will cease to apply in the UK on March 29, 2019,  unless a transitional period is agreed with the remaining 27-member bloc.

“At present UK ceramic manufacturers and their supply chain benefit from two EU anti-dumping measures covering imports of tiles and tableware from China. The anti-dumping duties provide our members with a level playing field with state-supported Chinese competitors,” the British Ceramics Confederation (BCC), a trade interest group, which is lobbying on behalf of all sectors of the UK ceramics industry, told Industrial Minerals.

“The bills currently before Parliament need to [be amended to] enable similar UK measures, but at the moment they fall short. This isn’t about protectionism, it’s about restoring a competitive environment when some countries break the rules,” the BCC added.

The Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill, first brought before parliament on November 20, 2017, proposes an economic interest test and public interest test should be used to calculate the damage to sales and jobs and will be imposed by a newly-created Trade Remedies Authority (TRA).

The TRA would be in charge of implementing any trade remedies or anti-dumping duties, while the two tests are deemed to be too vaguely outlined in the bill and therefore insufficient to protect UK producers from dumped products.

The European Ceramic Industry Association and European Federation for Ceramic Table- and Ornamentalware claim Chinese imports have caused the loss of 10,000 jobs among EU producers between 2008-2013 and reduced output, allowing Chinese control of the industry.

The UK ceramics industry currently creates an annual $2 billion turnover, and $500 million of exports.

Should China flood the UK market with cheaply-made ceramics products, Chinese products could then hold a monopoly on the market.

Those given market economy status (MES) by the World Trade Organisation are exempt from anti-dumping duties, whereas non-MES countries can have their products subject to tariffs.

China has not yet been given MES, but is lobbying to achieve this.

Countries such China and Vietnam, where the state exerts a lot of influence in the domestic economy by providing subsidies, for instance, create artificially-low prices on products in countries where they are exported.

Feb 26

El pasado día 20 de Febrero tuvo lugar en la sede de Anfre en Madrid la Junta Directiva, la Asamblea General Ordinaria y las reuniones de nuestros distintos comités.

El pasado día 20 de Febrero tuvo lugar en la sede de Anfre en Madrid la Junta Directiva, la Asamblea General Ordinaria y las reuniones de nuestros distintos comités.

Al tratarse de la primera reunión del año nos hemos centrado tanto en la aprobación de los acuerdos tomados durante el 2017 como en la organización y aprobación de los eventos que queremos llevar a cabo durante el 2018.

Cabe destacar en este sentido la celebración de nuestro IX Congreso Nacional de Materiales, Maquinaria y Montaje de Refractarios que tendrá lugar como vienen siendo habitual en Oviedo los días 12 y 13  de Junio.

Debido al gran éxito que se ha obtenido en el Curso de Ingeniería de Refractarios se va a realizar la II edición del mismo, este año en Sevilla durante el mes de Noviembre.

Se ha hablado largo y tendido de los temas que interesan a los asociados tanto a nivel nacional como europeo.

Tenemos que agradecer la asistencia a dichas reuniones de Matilde Fernández García y Ricardo Álvarez Fernández de la Fundación ITMA, nos han acercado un poco más con sus presentación a dicha institución.

Como es ya habitual después de un día duro de reuniones podemos relajarnos en la comida que ofrece Anfre a todos los asistentes.

Queríamos agradecer una vez más a todos los asociados su implicación en la Asociación, sin todos vosotros Anfre no sería posible. Gracias por seguir sumando.

Os esperamos en Oviedo.

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