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Non mainstream ferroalloys: silicon manganese series, a little secret you don't know

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Introduction: How much do you know about the silicon manganese series?

Thread steel has been a hot topic in the market throughout the past 2016, with high ups and downs, and trading volume, making it a favored target for many investors. However, there are also some small varieties that are additives for steelmaking, and they are gradually following the footsteps of the threaded big brother. Due to insufficient participants and insufficient gaming, there are often large fluctuations and price fluctuations, and the price response is also somewhat delayed. However, this does not mean that the variety lacks investment opportunities. After all, opportunities are always reserved for those who are prepared! Today, poker investors are going to talk about the small variety of ferroalloy, silicon manganese series.

On August 8, 2014, the China Securities Regulatory Commission officially approved the listing of silicon iron and manganese silicon futures contracts on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange. On this day, the futures contracts for ferrosilicon and manganese silicon were officially listed for trading. Abbreviations SF and SM in futures trading. At that time, the benchmark price of ferrosilicon was 6000 yuan/ton, and the benchmark price of silicon manganese was 6650 yuan/ton.

What are ferrosilicon and manganese silicon?

Silicon manganese belongs to a type of ferroalloy. According to the classification of its main elements, ferroalloys can be divided into different series such as silicon series, manganese series, chromium series, etc.

Uses of ferrosilicon and manganese silicon

Silicon iron and manganese silicon are the most commonly used ferroalloys in the steelmaking process, mainly used as deoxidizers and alloying agents during steelmaking to eliminate excess oxygen and sulfur in molten steel and improve the quality and performance of steel. In recent years, the proportion of ferrosilicon and manganese silicon alloys in consumption has undergone significant changes. Due to the fact that manganese silicon alloys can deoxygenate, increase the manganese content in steel, and improve the strength of steel, the proportion of manganese silicon alloys used as deoxidizers is gradually higher than that of ferrosilicon. Silicon iron is not only used for steelmaking, but also for smelting magnesium metal.

Used as a deoxidizer. The steelmaking process is the process of decarburization and removal of harmful impurities such as phosphorus and sulfur in molten iron by blowing oxygen or adding oxidants. During the process of converting pig iron into steel, the oxygen content in the molten steel gradually increases and is generally present in the form of FeO. If the excess oxygen left in the steel is not removed, it cannot be cast into qualified steel billets and steel with good mechanical properties cannot be obtained.

For this reason, it is necessary to add some elements that have stronger binding force with oxygen than iron, and their oxides are easy to exclude from the steel liquid and enter the slag. According to the binding strength of various elements in molten steel to oxygen, the order from weak to strong is as follows: chromium, manganese, carbon, silicon, vanadium, titanium, boron, aluminum, zirconium, and calcium. Therefore, iron alloys composed of silicon, manganese, aluminum, and calcium are commonly used for deoxidation in steelmaking.

Used as an alloying agent. Alloy elements not only reduce the impurity content in steel, but also adjust the chemical composition of steel. Commonly used alloy elements include silicon, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, vanadium, titanium, tungsten, cobalt, boron, niobium, etc. Steel grades containing different alloying elements and alloy contents have different characteristics and uses.

Used as a reducing agent. In addition, ferrosilicon can be used as a reducing agent for producing ferroalloys such as ferromolybdenum and ferrovanadium, while silicon-chromium alloy and silicon-manganese alloy can be used as reducing agents for refining medium to low carbon ferrochromium and medium to low carbon ferromanganese, respectively.

In short, silicon can significantly improve the elasticity and magnetic conductivity of steel. Therefore, when smelting structural steel, tool steel, spring steel, and silicon steel for transformers, silicon based alloys must be used; General steel contains 0.15% -0.35% silicon, structural steel contains 0.40% -1.75% silicon, tool steel contains 0.30% -1.80% silicon, spring steel contains 0.40% -2.80% silicon, stainless acid resistant steel contains 3.40% -4.00% silicon, heat-resistant steel contains 1.00% -3.00% silicon, silicon steel contains 2% -3% silicon or higher. Manganese can reduce the brittleness of steel, improve the hot working performance of steel, and increase the strength, hardness and wear resistance of steel. Without manganese, steel cannot be produced. The proportion of manganese consumed by the steel industry exceeds 90% of its production. Manganese is an essential functional basic raw material for producing high-quality steel. During the steelmaking process, impurities such as sulfur and oxygen can be removed, and the physical properties of steel can be improved by improving its strength, hardness, and wear resistance. At present, there is no other element that can replace the role of manganese in steel production.

Silicon manganese industry chain

The main raw materials for the production of ferrosilicon and manganese silicon alloys are silica ore and manganese ore, respectively. Silicon ore is mainly distributed in the northwest region, with Qinghai, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, and Gansu provinces accounting for approximately 65.4% of the country's silicon iron production. At present, the largest silica and quartz base in China is located in Shizuishan City, Ningxia, with a proven reserves of 4.3 billion tons of silica. Manganese and silicon are mainly distributed in the southwest and northwest, with Guangxi, Hunan, Guizhou, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia provinces accounting for over 75.7% of the national manganese and silicon production. At present, there are 213 confirmed manganese ore areas with a reserve of 560 million tons, ranking second in the world. Guangqi Central and Western regions have the most manganese mines in China, while Chongqing is currently the world's largest production base for manganese ore and electrolytic manganese, known as the "world's largest manganese capital". Its proven manganese ore reserves are as high as 50 million tons, with a predicted total of 201.7735 million tons of prospective resources, accounting for 1/4 of the country's total reserves.

Silicon iron alloy is not only partially used as a steelmaking additive, but also used for smelting magnesium metal. At present, there are four unfavorable factors restricting the development of the silica mining industry: firstly, silica is mainly used to produce products with low added value and low economic benefits such as ferroalloys, glass products, and silicon carbide; Secondly, the equipment of silicon mining enterprises is rudimentary. During the mining process, the enterprise discards thick and thin mining, rich and poor mining, leaves edges during mining, easy and difficult mining, resulting in resource waste and damage to the ecological environment; Thirdly, the development of the silica ore industry requires high environmental protection requirements and high costs; Fourthly, due to insufficient funds, the current production of silica only relies on small and medium-sized enterprises with rudimentary equipment for preliminary processing. Faced with the current situation of unprofitable or minimally profitable silica resources, some large and medium-sized enterprises in China need to actively integrate existing mining resources, operate in groups, improve processing capabilities and core technologies, and strive to improve China's silicon industry as soon as possible and enter the world's advanced ranks.

Manganese silicon alloy, as the most important variety of ferroalloys (with a demand of about 50% of the total production of ferroalloys), is mainly used in the steelmaking industry (with manganese consumption accounting for 90% -95%) as a deoxidizer and desulfurizer in the ironmaking and steelmaking processes, as well as in the manufacturing of alloys. The remaining 5% -10% of manganese is used in other industrial fields, such as chemical industry (manufacturing various manganese containing salts), light industry (used for batteries, matches, printing paint, soap making, etc.), building materials industry (colorants and fading agents for glass and ceramics), national defense industry, electronics industry, environmental protection, agriculture and animal husbandry, etc.

Compared with manganese ore in Africa and other regions, domestic manganese ore has lower grade and poorer quality. However, due to large-scale mining, domestic manganese ore resources are facing the risk of depletion, and it is estimated that the country's manganese resources can be mined for another 15-20 years. Imported ore from abroad has a high grade, relatively low slag content, low cost, and low pollution. The state encourages enterprises to go abroad and increase exploration overseas. At present, some domestic electrolytic manganese enterprises have explored manganese mines in countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Zambia, South Africa, and Brazil. China's largest electrolytic manganese enterprise, CITIC Manganese Mining Company, has purchased 30 million tons of manganese ore resources in Gabon and 10 million tons in South Africa, embarking on its own mining. CITIC Manganese controls 22% of manganese ore resources in China.

The downstream industries of both are mainly steelmaking enterprises, and the most commonly used ferroalloys in the steelmaking process are ferrosilicon, ferromanganese, manganese silicon alloys, and ferrochromium. Among them, ferrosilicon and ferromanganese are mainly used for ordinary steel smelting, while manganese silicon alloy and ferrochromium are mainly used for special steel smelting. And ferrochrome is the most important raw material for producing stainless steel, and the supply and demand situation of ferrochrome is closely related to the supply and demand situation of the stainless steel market.

Production methods of silicon manganese series

According to the smelting equipment, operating methods, and heat sources used, it can be roughly divided into electric furnace method, aluminothermic method, and others. Among them, electric furnace method is the main method for producing ferroalloys, accounting for about 80% of the total ferroalloy production. The main equipment used is electric furnace.

Production of ferrosilicon and manganese silicon

In 2016, China's ferroalloy production totaled 35.59 million tons, including 4.24 million tons of ferrosilicon and 6.4 million tons of manganese silicon.

Consumption of domestic ferrosilicon and manganese silicon ore

The steel industry is the main downstream industry of ferroalloys, so the consumption areas of ferrosilicon and manganese silicon are consistent with the production capacity layout of China's steel industry, mainly concentrated in North China and East China. From the perspective of provinces (cities), Hebei is the province with the largest consumption of ferrosilicon and manganese silicon in China, accounting for about 25% of the country, and Jiangsu also exceeds 10%. According to enterprises, the top ranked ones include Hebei Iron and Steel Group, Baosteel, Wuhan Iron and Steel, Shagang, Ansteel, and Shougang.

The most widely used type of ferrosilicon is currently 72 # (with a silicon content of ≥ 72% and a national standard grade of FeSi75-B). In the steelmaking industry, approximately 4 kilograms of 72 # ferrosilicon are consumed for each ton of steel produced. According to the silicon iron price of 6000 yuan/ton (including tax price), the cost of silicon iron per ton of crude steel production is about 30 yuan. Based on the estimated production cost of 3500 yuan per ton of steel, the proportion of silicon iron cost is only 0.86%.

The most widely used manganese silicon is 6818 # manganese silicon. In the steelmaking industry, approximately 14 kilograms of manganese silicon are consumed for each ton of steel produced. According to the price of manganese silicon of 7000 yuan/ton (including tax price), the cost of silicon iron per ton of crude steel production is approximately 100 yuan. Based on the production cost of 3500 yuan per ton of steel, the cost of manganese silicon accounts for 2.86%.

Import and export trade

The import and export volume of manganese silicon and the import volume of ferrosilicon in China are both very small. The annual export volume of ferrosilicon in China is relatively large, but it is decreasing year by year. Since 2013, China's ferrosilicon exports have been facing a gradual downward trend. Among them, Japan, South Korea, and the United States are the main export targets for China's ferrosilicon.

The import tariff rate of ferrosilicon and manganese silicon is relatively low, only 1%. The ferroalloy industry belongs to a low value-added and high energy consumption industry, and the country does not encourage its exports. Compared to imports, the export tariff rate is higher, with 25% for silicon iron and 20% for manganese silicon.

Production cost of ferrosilicon and manganese silicon

The production cost of ferrosilicon mainly consists of electricity, silica, and blue charcoal. Among them, electricity accounts for the largest proportion of the production cost of ferrosilicon, accounting for about 60-70%, while blue carbon accounts for about 25-30%. Silica is cheap and has a very low cost proportion, accounting for about 2%.

The production cost of manganese silicon alloy mainly consists of manganese ore, electricity, and coke, with manganese ore accounting for about 60%, electricity bills of about 20% -25%, and coke of about 10% -15%.

Factors Influencing the Price of Ferrosilicon and Manganese Silicon

International manganese price. Since 2003, the rapid development of the domestic steel industry has promoted the demand for manganese alloys, leading to a sharp increase in China's manganese ore imports. In recent years, China's manganese ore imports account for about one-third of the total demand. Therefore, the fluctuations in international manganese ore prices have a significant impact on domestic manganese silicon prices.

Transportation costs. Silicon iron and manganese silicon in China are mainly concentrated in the northwest and southwest regions, while the steel industry is mainly distributed in North and East China. The difference in origin and consumption has led to higher transportation costs for ferroalloys. Ferroalloys in some western provinces can be transported by railway, with relatively lower costs; The cost of road transportation is relatively high. Taking Jiangsu as an example: Currently, transporting ferrosilicon from Ningxia to Jiangsu is mainly done by car, with a transportation cost of around 500 yuan per ton. And the ferroalloys in Inner Mongolia are mainly transported by truck. In addition, ferroalloy production enterprises in areas where hydropower is the energy source have obvious seasonal characteristics, uneven annual production distribution, and increased transportation difficulties and costs. And some ferroalloy enterprises in the north will also increase transportation costs due to cold winter weather.

Electricity prices. Ferroalloys are a high energy consuming (power) industry, and electricity accounts for a relatively high proportion of its costs. With the consumption and shortage of energy worldwide, the impact of electricity costs on the ferroalloy industry will become increasingly significant. Therefore, the price of ferroalloys will fluctuate with changes in electricity prices, mainly due to national regulation and high and low water periods.

Of course, the other is the national macro policy.

Although these two small varieties have just been launched for less than 3 years, at some times, the price fluctuations are even more exciting or risky. However, as little brothers in steel products, as long as the thread does not hit a recent low, these two children will continue to follow suit. Regarding the delivery and fundamental analysis of ferrosilicon and manganese silicon futures, more experts are waiting for you on the tide.