On 29th December 2019, some 3.6kt of indium stocks from the bankrupt Fanya Metals Exchange were put up for auction by the Kunming Intermediate People’s Court on the Taobao website. Despite receiving more than 10,000 views in the 24-hour bidding window, the lot failed to attract any bids – the second time an auction of Fanya indium inventories has flopped. The auction was only open to domestic companies.
During the 2011–2015 period when Fanya Metals Exchange, based in Kunming, China, was operational, it handled some 14 ‘strategic metals’ including indium, gallium, tungsten, germanium and antimony. Fanya promised investors returns of up to 14% and initially enjoyed local government support. However, after liquidity issues emerged in April 2015 and Fanya halted payments to investors, local police seized the Exchange’s assets, including over 70kt of minor metal stocks. Some 21 people, including the Fanya chairman, received jail terms or fines when the court case was concluded in March 2019.
Inventories of some metals, notably indium, bismuth, germanium, dysprosium, terbium and tungsten, were particularly high compared to annual demand, representing between 25% and, in the case of indium, 400% of global annual supply.
Since the beginning of auctions in January 2019, most stocks have been acquired by state-owned or state-backed companies. High inventories of indium remain, however, and it is unclear after this latest failed auction what the authorities will choose to do next. A government strategic stockpile may be the quickest way to secure them and restore market confidence, with prices for indium wallowing at 30% of their January 2011 levels.
Jessica Roberts, Manager – Copper & Technology Metals, will be discussing ‘The rise and fall of Fanya and implications for global minor metal markets’ at Roskill’s On the Road… New York event on 16th January. Limited delegate spaces are still available. To register to attend, click here.