In 2021, manganese ore shipments to China started to rebound after they fell a year earlier, a recent report by a market research firm IndexBox states.
From January through July 2021, 18.6M tonnes were purchased, which is 19% more than the same period in the previous year. In 2020, China imported 32M tonnes of ore which was 7.6% less than in 2019. At the same time, mining of manganese ore worldwide declined by 6% y-o-y to 60M tonnes due to the slump in demand from the primary downstream market, the steel industry. Global imports fell by 4% y-o-y to 43M tonnes in 2020. The country maintains its position as the largest importer with a market share of 74%.
Significant changes occur in the manganese sector due to its increasing use in the rapidly expanding electric automobile industry. China is the dominating player on the market for high-purity manganese used in car batteries, producing over 90% of the global supply. With government support, Chinese manganese companies formed a cartel-type association, the Manganese Innovation Alliance, to strengthen their positions in the worldwide market. Since the union was created, prices for manganese shipped to South Korea have doubled.
Battery producers’ considerable dependence on products from China could hinder competition in the global accumulator market and enable Chinese products to push out foreign counterparts. Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Ltd., based in China, is the most prominent electric car battery producer globally. It is followed by the South Korean LG Energy Solution and the Japanese Panasonic, both importing a large portion of their manganese materials from China.
In 2020, approx. 60M tonnes of manganese ores and concentrates were produced worldwide, down by -2.9% on 2019 figures. In value terms, manganese ore and concentrate production declined rapidly to $8.7B, estimated at export prices.
South Africa (20M tonnes) constituted the country with the most significant manganese ore and concentrate production, comprising approx. 33% of total volume. Moreover, manganese ore and concentrate production in South Africa exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest producer, Australia (7.6M tonnes), threefold. Gabon (6.8M tonnes) ranked third in total production with an 11% share.
In 2020, global manganese ore and concentrate imports contracted modestly to 43M tonnes, waning by -4.5% on the previous year. In value terms, manganese ore and concentrate imports dropped dramatically to $7.1B.
China dominates manganese ore and concentrates import structure, recording 32M tonnes, near 74% of total imports in 2020. It was distantly followed by India (3.5M tonnes), making up 8.2% of total imports. Russia (1.2M tonnes), Malaysia (1.1M tonnes), South Korea (1.1M tonnes), Norway (0.9M tonnes) and Japan (0.8M tonnes) followed a long way behind the leaders.
In value terms, China ($4.9B) constitutes the largest market for imported manganese ores and concentrates worldwide, comprising 69% of global imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by India ($641M), with a 9.1% share of the total value. It was followed by South Korea, with a 3% share.
The average manganese ore and concentrate import price stood at $165 per tonne in 2020, declining by -16% against the previous year. Average prices varied somewhat amongst the major importing countries. Major importing countries recorded the following prices: in Norway ($206 per tonne) and Japan ($204 per tonne), while China ($155 per tonne) and Russia ($159 per tonne) were amongst the lowest.