Nitrovan Shipments to the US


16 September 2017

One helpful thing that US customs does is to make public their shipping import records. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean that these are freely available via a google search – as is often the case the US government’s commitment to open information access is tempered by its interest in making money – thus it sells this information to a number of other service providers who will try and sell this on as general ‘Business Intelligence’. Examples of these services are:

Some of these give you small amounts of old (>2 years), recent (3 months) or current (last shipment typically) data for free as lures to try and get you to sign up for their (fairly expensive) data services. The last two services seem to offer the most amount of useful information for free.

By carefully piecing together all the shipments since Bushveld completed the Vametco acquisition on the 31st March 2017 we have been able to build up the following shipment log. The first shipment that is counted is the one that arrived in Baltimore on the 5th of May – it takes between 23-29 days to travel from Durban, SA to Baltimore, USA so the arrival on the 21st April is not counted as that left Durban on the 29th March, two days before the Vametco deal completed.

In July 2017 the Chinese Vanadium bomb dropped and prices for FeV shot up there from around 25 USD/Kg to more than 50 USD/Kg – on the 31st July Fortune tweeted that Nitrovan was now selling at higher than 52 USD/Kg in China, when they had been only around 28 USD/Kg at the start of the month. You will recall that Nitrovan attracts a premium of around 5% with regard to FerroVanadium. The prices rises in the US were slower to hit and as sales price will have most probably been fixed on departure we have conservatively applied this price increase incrementally only over the deliveries arriving after August the 15th.

Nitrovan is shipped from South Africa to Baltimore within 20 foot, general purpose containers loaded in either Durban or Cape Town and occasionally both. A container will typically hold between 18,000 to 20,000 Kg of Nitrovan 12 and/or Nitrovan 16 in either bags or boxes. The product is transported just a few miles from the discharge port to a secure warehouse for repackaging and distribution to the receiver’s customers.

The journey from Durban to Baltimore takes from 19 to 27 days and is typically Durban-Cape Town-New York-Baltimore although occasionally other ports are also included. The vessels then return to Durban via Norfolk, Charlestown, Freeport, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, the round trip taking around two months. There are eight vessels assigned to this route at any time.

A very good video of one of the vessels arriving in Baltimore can be found here:


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