The Future of Ferrochrome
Ferrochrome plays a big part in the production of stainless steel and, as such, its constantly-fluctuating market price has a direct effect on the finished product. In this edition of the BS Stainless blog, we will look in more detail at ferrochrome and discuss its current and projected performance in the global marketplace.
Ferrochrome, sometimes referred to as ferrochromium and abbreviated as FeCr, is an alloy of iron and chromium. The alloy is produced by processing mined chromite, which is an ore primarily composed of chrome oxide and iron oxide. As South Africa, India and Kazakhstan all have especially large resources of this valuable ore, the majority of the world's ferrochrome production takes place in these countries.
Producing ferrochrome involves a carbothermic reaction; such reactions are used to reduce metal oxides such as chromite with carbon being utilised as an effective reducing agent. The process requires extremely elevated temperatures which can reach as high as 2,800 °C and so most production takes place in an electric arc furnace.
Though ferrochrome has several uses, the stainless steel industry accounts for most of the world's production of the alloy. In fact, more than 80% of the ferrochrome that is produced is used to make stainless steel.
During most of 2023, the global demand for ferrochrome was especially high, leading to correspondingly-high prices. This demand has fallen in recent months, leading some stainless steel producers to temporarily close their ferrochrome furnaces until market conditions improve.
Looking to the future, most experts agree that demand will rise again as 2024 progresses, with current cutbacks thus starting to prop up prices. Though the price of ferrochrome has a subsequent effect on all grades of stainless steel, it is the 400 series (which does not contain expensive nickel) that feel the strongest impact.
As one of the UK's premier suppliers of stainless steel to customers all over the world, BS Stainless always keeps a close and watchful eye on the ever-changing price of ferrochrome. Though such changes in the market value of the material must obviously be reflected in our own pricing structure, we pledge to ensure that our stainless steel materials and products will always be made available to our customers at the most competitive cost, with absolutely zero compromise on their premium quality.
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