Oversupply and sluggish demand in China, one of the world’s top tellurium producers, have brought tellurium prices to their lowest level in four years, according to Metal-Pages. “We did no business in July, and there are no signs of improvement in August,” said a Guangdong trader who wants to conduct business at $129 per kilogram on the spot market.

Lack of improvement in August could spell trouble for the rest of the year. A trader from Hunan told Metal-Pages, “August is the last chance for the tellurium market because air conditioners and refrigerators will see seasonal slowdown in September.” Tellurium is a key material in refrigeration film, which is used in both of these appliances.

Added to the upcoming fall slowdown is the fact that this year even the warm months have seen depressed home appliance sales, in part because fewer people are able to buy houses. In June, exports of air conditioners from China were down 1.42 percent from a year ago, leaving 8.08 million air conditioners still in stock.

Over the past week, the price for 99.99 percent grade tellurium in China has dropped from $122 to $138 per kilogram to $118 to $133 per kilogram. In Europe, prices as high as $135 to $140 per kilogram were reported, but trade was just as quiet as in China.