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Market conditions for manganese products were relatively weak at the end of 2011, with a large stockpile of ore at Chinese ports, and poor demand for steel long products, according to “Manganese: Global Industry Markets and Outlook, 2012.”
Underlying these factors specific to manganese were low business confidence and economic uncertainty, particularly in Europe and the U.S., arising in part from the Euro zone debt crisis.
In the longer term, the direction of manganese prices will depend on a combination of economic growth in the industrialized world, and continued expansion of industrializing and emerging economies in Asia and South America. Recovery, particularly of the construction industries in Europe and North America, could lead to a firming of manganese ferroalloy prices in 2013 and beyond. This, coupled with continued infrastructural growth in China, India and elsewhere in Asia, should result in secure markets and rising prices for manganese. Expansion of Asian automobile industries will also stimulate manganese prices.
Global demand for manganese in batteries has been relatively stable at about 300 ktpy. This has mainly been accounted for by zinc and alkaline primary batteries, but demand for manganese in rechargeable batteries has risen in recent years.
Demand for manganese for primary batteries is likely to show some growth, particularly for lithium and alkaline batteries in China and south Asian countries. But in Japan, Europe and North America, future demand for manganese in primary batteries is likely to be relatively flat, whereas use of manganese for lithium-ion (Li-ion batteries) secondary batteries will rise strongly. Overall, total demand for manganese is expected to increase by around 6% per year over the next five years. As demand for manganese continues rising, new supply will be required to enter the market to satisfy requirements. Some 10 Mtpy (gross weight ore) of new manganese mining capacity is planned, mainly in South Africa where three mining projects with a total output of 6.3 M tpy of saleable ore or sinter are planned. The first on stream is likely to be the 2.4 Mtpy Kalagadi project.
About 2.3 Mtpy of manganese ferroalloy (including Mn-rich slag) projects were being planned in 2011. The largest of these was the 320 ktpy Kalagadi installation, which is scheduled to start up in the second half of 2012 at Coega in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
In China, the electrolytic manganese metal (EMM) industry is being restructured, which will result in fewer, larger operations. Some 30 EMM producers with capacities of more than 30 ktpy are scheduled to be built from 2011 to 2015. Since 2004, some 450 ktpy of small-scale EMM capacity has been eliminated in an effort to modernize the industry. For more information, visit www.roskill.com/manganese.