12th Rare Earth Summit

May 27-28, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

11th Aluminum Raw Materials Summit

May 20-21, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

9th Magnesium Summit

April 15-16, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

13th World InBiGeGa Forum

March 25-26, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

7th World Antimony Forum

June 13-14, 2019
Changsha, Hunan, China

7th Refractory & Abrasive Materials Summit 2019

May 23-24, 2019
Qingdao, Shandong, China

10th Aluminum Raw Materials Summit

May 16-17, 2019
Zhengzhou, Henan, China

11th Rare Earth Summit

May 9-10, 2019
Qingdao, Shandong, China

8th Magnesium Summit

April 11-12, 2019
Zhuhai, Guangdong, China

12th World InBiGeGa Forum

March 14-15, 2019
Zhuhai, Guangdong, China

6th World Manganese & Selenium Forum

May 21-22, 2018
Hainan Sanya, China
Ivanov Sergey Andreevich: Outlook uncertain for Russian tantalum and niobium market with weak demand
----Interview with Ivanov Sergey Andreevich, sales manager of Russian SpecMetalMaster Company
Located in Moscow, Russia, SpecMetalMaster Company was established in 1991 and is mainly engaged in trading with exports to Europe as its focus in the early days. The company entered the metal processing business in 1994. At present, SpecMetalMaster Company not only supplies refractory metals, alloys and downstream metal products ...

Asian Metal: Hello, Sergey, thank you for accepting our interview. Could you please give us a brief introduction to your main area of business?

Sergey: It’s my pleasure. Our company is mainly engaged in trading rare earths and refractory metals, such as titanium, niobium and molybdenum, with offices in St Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg. Meanwhile, our products are also exported to other CIS countries.

Asian Metal: The economic situation in Russia still looks none too promising this year due to the economic sanctions imposed by economic sanctions imposed by economic sanctions imposed by and other western countries. How do you see the current minor metal market in Russia?

Sergey: The Russian minor metal market is running slowly with the overall economic downturn. But economic sanctions imposed by economic sanctions imposed by economic sanctions imposed by have also brought us some development opportunities. For example, domestic titanium and niobium buyers used to purchase a kind of superalloy directly from the U.S., which we are unable to produce at the moment. However, these buyers have started to look for domestic suppliers as imports are restricted after the economic sanctions. Besides, we have also found some alternatives to this superalloy. Therefore, we can say that economic sanctions have brought us some new customers.

Asian Metal: How has your metal business been so far this year?

Sergey: Domestic and international market demand for metals has been sluggish since the beginning of this year. The ruble prices of most metals in the domestic market have gone up sharply due to the severe devaluation of the ruble. Affected by this, few buyers are making large volume purchases. Currently, our rare earth products business is in an almost stagnant state and we are mainly dealing in refractory metals and alloy products, such as tantalum ingots, tantalum rods, niobium ingots and hard alloys.

Asian Metal: In view of this, how has your trading volume changed so far this year compared with the same period last year?

Sergey: So far, our trading volume has witnessed a decline of 10-50% year on year. Take titanium metal and niobium metal for example; our monthly trading volumes for these two metals were able to reach 500kg and about 1t respectively in H1 of 2014. However, the trading volume gradually shrank with the depreciation of the ruble from September. We only sold 400kg of niobium metal in the early part of this year and 250kg of the material in May with no orders since then.

Asian Metal: What are your thoughts on supply and demand in the Russian tantalum metal and niobium metal markets?

Sergey: As far as I know, the market demand for tantalum metal and niobium metal was 20t and 80t respectively in Russian markets before 2014 as there were temporarily no suppliers in the local markets to offer long-term supplies of tantalum metal and niobium metal, and the products were mainly imported from Kazakhstan, the U.S. and China. In terms of our procurement, we had to import all the products from one supplier in Kazakhstan as of the end of 2014, but they have mainly supplied to long-term contracts with no supplies in the spot market since 2015. In addition, the supply channel from the U.S. is limited, so we prefer to cooperate with Chinese suppliers at the moment. However, local demand for tantalum metal and niobium metal has seen a sharp decrease of about 40% following the significant depreciation of the ruble due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine last year. We have received few orders since the early part of this year and have yet to fully establish a cooperative relationship with Chinese suppliers.

Asian Metal: Currently, the Russian tantalum metal and niobium metal markets are sluggish with few buyers; do you think this is mainly a result of the depreciation of the ruble?

Sergey: The depreciation of the ruble is one of the reasons, but the key factor is the economic crisis in Russia this year. The relevant data show that the domestic rate of inflation has reached 100-120% so far this year.

Asian Metal: What then, do you think of the prospects for the Russian tantalum metal and niobium metal markets in Q4?

Sergey: I think market demand will struggle to rebound in the near term, before there is an improvement in the economic environment. We’re essentially holding no stock for most of the metals at present and will only trade based on firm orders with a wait-and-see attitude towards future market trends.

Asian Metal: Thank you for accepting our interview and we hope that your company will continue to thrive in the future.

Sergey: Thank you.