Approaching Magnesium Deficiency Threatens to Disrupt the European Auto Industry

Approaching Magnesium Deficiency Threatens to Disrupt the European Auto Industry

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Magnesium – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights‘. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

Limiting industrial carbon dioxide emissions in China has halted work in two-thirds of Shaanxi’s fifty magnesium plants, while the rest of the factories will be required to halve production. As a result, in the next six months, the global market may face a deficit, hitting the European automotive industry particularly hard. The German Non-Ferrous Metals Association (WVM) calls on the German government to begin negotiations with China to increase magnesium supplies to Europe.

Key Trends and Insights

Over the next six months, a deficit is expected in the world magnesium market. China, the primary supplier of magnesium, is cutting production in order to reduce greenhouse emissions as part of a comprehensive program to reduce energy consumption. According to IndexBox estimates, China accounts for 87% of world production and 81% of the total exports, so a marked reduction in supply in the country will be a shock to the global market.

In the Shaanxi Province, a critical magnesium-producing region in China, 35 of the 50 magnesium plants have been shut down to date. The rest of the factories were forced to cut production in half to save energy. In September of this year, the Yulin Municipal Development and Reform Commission (Shaanxi Province) introduced restrictions that require businesses to suspend or reduce production intensity by 50-60%, depending on the level of energy consumption of the company and the amount of its carbon dioxide emissions.

The world market reacted to the introduction of restrictive measures in China with a jump in prices. European average magnesium prices surpassed the $4,500 per tonne mark in early September, a peak since 2008, while back in June, they were at $2,800 per tonne (according to IndexBox estimates).

The automotive industry, consuming 35% of magnesium produced worldwide, could suffer from the metal shortage. The European market is almost entirely dependent on Chinese supplies, which cover 95% of the total demand for the metal since there is no domestic production within the EU. It is expected that the current reserves of magnesium in Europe, and Germany in particular, a key importer of this metal, will be exhausted by November 2021.

A cross-industry group of associations issued an urgent call for action against the imminent risk of European production shutdowns due to a possible suspension of supply chains. This letter has been signed by European Aluminium, Eurometaux, Eurofer, ECCA, IMA, ESTAL, Metals Packaging EuropeCLEPA, EuroAlliages, EUWA, and the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), representing the 15 major Europe-based automobile manufacturers including BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen, Honda, Hyundai and Ferrari. Earlier, the German Non-Ferrous Metals Association (WVM) has sent a similar letter to the German government calling for negotiations with China to increase magnesium supplies to the EU.

Global Magnesium Production

Global magnesium production dropped to 1M tonnes in 2020, with a decrease of -7.5% on the previous year. In value terms, magnesium production declined from $3B in 2019 to $2.8B in 2020 estimated in export prices.

China (900K tonnes) constituted the country with the largest volume of magnesium production, comprising approx. 87% of total volume. Moreover, magnesium production in China exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest producer, Russia (60K tonnes), more than tenfold. The third position in this ranking was occupied by Brazil (20K tonnes), with a 1.9% share.

Global Magnesium Exports

Global magnesium exports fell to 385K tonnes in 2020, waning by -9.8% against the previous year. In value terms, magnesium exports shrank from $1.2B in 2019 to $1.1B in 2020.

China prevails in magnesium export structure, recording 311K tonnes, which was approx. 81% of total exports in 2020. The U.S. (11K tonnes), Turkey (9.4K tonnes), Germany (9.3K tonnes), the Czech Republic (6.7K tonnes), Russia (6.7K tonnes) and Taiwan (Chinese) (5.8K tonnes) took a little share of total exports.

In value terms, China ($759M) remains the largest magnesium supplier worldwide, comprising 72% of global exports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Turkey ($39M), with a 3.7% share of global exports. It was followed by the U.S., with a 3.4% share.

In 2020, the value of supplies from China and the U.S. dropped by -15.6% y-o-y and -15.3% y-o-y, respectively. By contrast, Turkey increased exports in value terms twofold.

In 2020, the average magnesium export price amounted to $2,747 per tonne, waning by -3.8% against the previous year. Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest price was Turkey ($4,110 per tonne), while China ($2,442 per tonne) was amongst the lowest. In 2020, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Russia, while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

World’s Largest Magnesium Importers

The purchases of the twelve major importers of magnesium, namely Canada, Germany, the U.S., Japan, South Korea, India, Taiwan (Chinese), Norway, France, Austria, Romania and Russia, represented more than two-thirds of total import. Mexico (8.6K tonnes) held a minor share of total imports.

In value terms, the largest magnesium importing markets worldwide were the U.S. ($156M), Canada ($92M) and Germany ($89M), with a combined 38% share of global imports.

Source: IndexBox Platform

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