In the face of falling demand for tellurium ingots out of Chinese markets, a number of tellurium producers have halted production in an attempt to slow the price decline. Buffeted by inventory costs, major Chinese tellurium suppliers have suggested that they cannot accept prices below 1,200 yuan/kg (CA$190.65/kg) despite lower prices being offered by European and Japanese suppliers.

According to Metal-Pages, traders and producers are both giving up higher prices in recent weeks despite expectations of a rebound in April that did not materialize. Since September, 99.99 percent pure tellurium has fallen by nearly 50 percent, from a 2,600 to 2,700 yuan/kg trading range to the current 1,150 to 1,250 yuan/kg range.

“It seems that the tellurium market has missed the traditional bullish season in April and May, and buyers want to ensure that any purchases of material are closely linked to the sales of end products” a Hunan province-based producer recently said.

April and May are traditionally strong months due to rising temperatures pushing sales of air conditioners, refrigerators, and other thermoelectrical devices higher. Cadmium-telluride thin-film solar panels, the primary end use of refined tellurium, have also seen demand battered in recent months.