The global position of ferrochrome
Elements influencing the global demand for and pricing of ferrochrome
- Global economic conditions
- Exchange rates
- Stainless steel demand
- Growth of Chinese ferrochrome industry
- Chrome ore exports
90% of the ferrochrome produced is used in stainless steel and specialty steels
4.1% growth rate forecast for stainless steel production in 2018
Ferrochrome production and its role in stainless steel
Produced by high-temperature reduction (smelting) of chromite, ferrochrome contains iron, chrome, minor amounts of carbon and silicon, and impurities such as sulphur, phosphorous and titanium.
Chrome is a metallurgical marvel. It brings critical properties to the metals with which it is alloyed. Add it to carbon steel in the form of ferrochrome and the steel becomes ‘stainless’ – corrosion resistant, mechanically strong, heat resistant, hard wearing, shiny and glamorous. Stainless steel is used almost everywhere in modern life from nuclear reactors to exhaust pipes, architecture, kitchenware and a host of other applications.
Specialty steels produced for applications such as tools, injection moulds, camshafts, etc also derive the high mechanical strength, hardness and heat-resistance required from their chrome content.
Key statistics for 2017
- Global ferrochrome production increased from 11.1 million tonnes to approximately 12.3 million tonnes.
- Ferrochrome consumption increased by approximately 7% in 2017 to 12.2 million tonnes.
- South Africa produced approximately 3.6 million tonnes in 2017.
- China consumed approximately 13.9 million tonnes of chrome ore in 2017 with South Africa accounting for 71.9% of imports into China.
South African chrome industry
|Approximately 29% of the world’s ferrochrome production was supplied by South Africa in 2017|
|Over 72% of the world’s chrome reserves are in South Africa|
|Provides over 200 000 direct and indirect jobs|
Challenges faced by South African ferrochrome producers
- Increasing production costs
- Socio-political challenges
- Legislative uncertainty
- Commodity prices and demand
- Chrome ore exports