Japan Users Seek Substitutes for Higher Metals

Japanese metal users shift from surging rare metals to substitutes. The users tend to use more molybdenum for electric heat sink instead of tungsten, of which price tripled in the first half of 2005. Titanium demand is expected to shift to stainless and copper alloys while some gas appliances makers users consider shifting from expensive brass to steel. Metal demand is shifting in many areas under surging metal market prices.Japanese tungsten products shipment decreased by 6% to 514 tonnes in January-November 2005 from same period of 2004, according to Japan Tungsten & Molybdenum Industries Association. The shipment for semiconductor application including heat sink decreased to 46 tonnes from 81 tonnes. Molybdenum products shipment was 883 tonnes in the 11 months compared with 708 tonnes for full year 2004. The shipment for semiconductor doubled to 475 tonnes in the 11 months from 235 tonnes in full year 2004. The association’s chairman Atsushi Seki who is chairman of A.L.M.T. Corp said the users are sensitive for the price shifting from expensive tungsten to molybdenum. International spot price of Ammonium paratungstate, which is intermediate material for tungsten, surged to near US$ 30 per kilogram of tungsten trioxide in mid 2005 under speculative money and higher demand in world largest supplier of China from around US$ 9 in January 2005. International spot price of molybdenum trioxide was less than US$ 40 per pound of molybdenum in January-June 2005 though the price tripled compared with the beginning of 2004. Metal users seek substitutes for other metals. Titanium demand surges for airplane and plant. The raw material of sponge titanium market experienced tight supply and surging price in past 2 years. Some titanium users try to shift to stainless steel and copper alloys. Japan Titanium Society said the shift is not serious when sponge makers rush to expand the output and rolled titanium makers increase the supply for major users. Brass bar users consider shifting to steel under the surging price of copper. The move started since September 2005 when Japanese copper official price reached 500,000 yen per tonne. Some users said to brass makers they will shift to steel in February 2006.