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Dampened expectations in stainless sector

Global – Although ferrous scrap prices have improved significantly over recent weeks, the greater sense of positivity has yet to filter through to the stainless sector.

While the 304 stainless scrap price has increased to US$ 980-1030 per tonne from US$ 920-970 and 316 material to US$ 1280-1330 from US$ 1200-1250, chrome scrap values have headed in the opposite direction since our late-February report, with the 409 quality dropping from US$ 220-260 to US$ 170-210 and the 430 grade from US$ 310-350 to US$ 260-300.

Following a run of nickel quotations around US$ 8500 per tonne and the friendlier steel scrap prices of recent weeks, traders were full of expectation that the barren period had come to an end. But when the charge chrome benchmark price for the second quarter was announced at US$ 0.82 per lb, it was greeted with disappointment by market participants.

According to Heinz H. Pariser Alloy Metals & Steel Market Research, South Africa’s exports of charge chrome became volatile during the course of 2015. After some hectic movements in the first three quarters of the year, volumes and prices stabilised during the final three-month period.

The country’s charge chrome exports totalled almost 3.6 million tonnes for a drop of 0.2% from the year before whereas prices fell quarter by quarter – from US$ 824 per tonne at the beginning of the year to US$ 721 in December.

The main export destinations were China with a 43% share followed by South Korea with 9.8%.

The full version of this nickel & stainless report will appear in the April issue of Recycling International.

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