Trade data

Trade data for chrome ore and ferrochrome

Chrome is a major alloying element for stainless steel and for super-alloys for gas turbines and alloy 600 and 800 series for process industries. World Bureau of Metal Statistics (WBMS) has comprehensive statistics for chrome production, trade and use by country for the period to January to September 2019. This month’s Stats Corner focuses on trade in chrome ore, the mined product, and ferrochrome, the smelted product used by stainless producers.
 
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Article by Peter Cranfield, WBMS consultant
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Chart 1 shows chrome ore exports for the periods Jan-Sept in 2019 and 2018 in thousand metric tonnes (kt) gross weight. Total global exports increased by 11% from 11.4 million tonnes (Mt) to 12.7 Mt. South Africa is the largest producer and exporter. S. African exports increased by 16% from 9.4 to 10.8 Mt and accounted for 85% of global chromite exports. Turkey’s exports increased by 3%, from 1.04 to 1.08 Mt. Turkey accounted for 8% of global exports. Exports from Zimbabwe fell by 24% from 0.7 to 0.53 Mt and Zimbabwe was 4% of the global total. So these three countries accounted for 97% of global exports.

Chart 2 shows global imports of chromite ore for the same periods.  Just as S. Africa totally dominates export trade, the same is true for China in imports, accounting for 86% of the global total. China’s imports increased by 3% to 11.4 Mt. Russia, the second largest importer, increased by 2% to 0.73 Mt. Indonesia’s imports increased by 50% to 0.39 Mt and accounted for 3% of the global total. So these three countries accounted for 95% of global imports. China is a major producer and user of ferrochrome. Total global imports were higher than reported exports in both years but the difference was smaller in the 2019 period amounting to 0.5 Mt.

Chart 3 shows global exports of ferrochrome in gross weight. Global exports increased by 2% from 5.3 to 5.4 Mt. There are three main players with respect to ferrochrome exports. South Africa accounted for 50% of global exports. The volume fell 3% to 2.7 Mt. Kazakhstan’s exports increased by 14% to 1.1 Mt and accounted for 21% global share. India’s exports increased by 7% to 0.65 Mt and were 12% of the global total. So these three countries accounted for nearly 75% of total exports. Finland, Russia and The Netherlands each accounted for around 4%. The first two are producers and the latter an important trading and shipping country. Others amounted to 6%.

Chart 4 shows global imports of ferrochrome in gross weight. Total imports of ferrochrome worldwide increased by 4% to 5.4 Mt. This is in line with the total exports for both periods, which is encouraging. As usual China is the key player in imports of raw materials with 2.3 Mt of ferrochrome or 43% of global imports. This was a substantial increase of 26% on the previous year to 2.3 Mt. It was also a large increase on the 35% share in the prior period. Japan accounted for 10% of total imports but the volume fell by 15% to 0.5 Mt. Indonesia’s imports increased by 50% to 0.5 Mt, also a 10% share. This is not surprising with the ramp-up in stainless production there towards the 3 Mt per annum recently installed slab capacity. S. Korea and USA each accounted for 8% of overall imports but were -8% and -22% respectively compared with the previous year. Belgium, Germany and others also had significant declines. In total these accounted for around 20% of the total imports.

Meet the Author

Peter Cranfield has a BSc (Econ) from London University and an MBA from Warwick. He started his career at Inco serving as market research manager and also producing the annual publication World Stainless Steel Statistics (in 1986 taken over by WBMS). Later he joined Shell-owned Billiton in The Hague for 15 years working in a number of metals and industrial minerals as well as strategic planning. Peter then moved back to London with BHPBilliton working in business planning and analysis in nickel, cobalt and stainless. He has regularly delivered presentations on nickel and stainless at conferences around the globe. Since retiring he has consulted for BHPB, Nickel Institute and now the UK-based World Bureau of Metal Statistics.

Peter Cranfield

 

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