06-09-2021 Benchmark capesize bulker rates tumble amid political unrest in bauxite powerhouse Guinea, By Michael Juliano, TradeWinds
Spot rates for two benchmark capesize bulker routes fell sharply on Monday amid political upheaval in Guinea, one of the world’s largest suppliers of bauxite. The China-Brazil roundtrip voyage slid 8.5% on Monday to $37,7231 per day, according to Baltic Exchange data. The China-Japan transpacific roundtrip leg to and from Brazil lost 6.4% to come in at $38,969 per day.
Sunday’s overthrow of Guinea’s government has shaken a capesize market that is already slipping amid slow mining activity worldwide, said John Kartsonas, founder of asset-management advisory firm Breakwave Advisors. “I think though the news affecting the market today is around the situation in Guinea,” he told TradeWinds. “The political instability following the coup and the impact on bauxite exports are what most traders are focusing on, and I believe are part of the excuse to sell. Guinea bauxite accounts for almost 5% of capesize activity.”
Special forces overthrew the President Alpha Conde-led government on Sunday, causing prices for bauxite, aluminum’s main ingredient, to rise on Monday. Asian Metal last assessed Guinean bauxite for delivery to China at $50.50 per tonne, up 1% from Friday and about 16% this year, Reuters reported.
Conde, 83, became president 11 years ago when the west African country held its first democratic election since gaining independence from France in 1958. Guinea, which has 7.4bn tonnes in bauxite reserves, is home to producers Societe Miniere de Boke and Compaigne des Bauxites de Guinea.
Kartsonas said this temporary downward trend in the capesize market may see spot rates fall into the mid-$30,000-per-day range, but they should head back up soon enough. “I am optimistic for a strong fourth-quarter rebound,” he said.
The capesize 5TC, a spot-rate average weighted across five key routes, declined 4.7% on Monday to $44,465 per day. The Baltic Dry Index shed 122 points to land at 3,822 points.
“We are all looking on aluminum,” Noble Capital Markets analyst Poe Fratt told TradeWinds. “Exports of bauxite from the country have been running at 4m to 5m tonnes per month, which, depending on the degree of any disruption, could sour sentiment.”