Formula contracts were reportedly booked with significantly smaller discounts compared with 2013 contracts, with one supplier claiming that his company booked contracts with no discount at all.

"We saw a substantial improvement. ... The consolidation of supply and trade flow into the country seems to have given more discipline to the pricing structure," he said.

"Discounts are substantially lower than last year," a second seller said.

However, one consumer said that his company had booked contracts with discounts of 4 to 5 percent, comparable to levels seen in 2013 contracts.

Meanwhile, medium-carbon ferromanganese contracts have yet to see a similar reduction in dis-counts, although one major consumer reportedly hasn't yet finalized its buys.

"On refined manganese, we were expecting to end up with a bigger improvement (in   discounts) than we did. ... Some stayed flat, some discounts narrowed marginally. The order of improvement was about 1 to 2 percent on the discount structure," the first seller said.

"The major difference between silicomanganese and medium-carbon (material) is that with silicomanganese you do not have a domestic producer that will put material into everybody's hands, come what may," the second seller said.

Indeed, the U.S. silicomanganese market has been impacted by the idling of Felman Production LLC, Letart, W.Va., with the company currently petitioning the West Virginia Public Service Commission for a special electricity rate that will allow it to restart production (, Nov. 22).

Some sources claimed that the relative stasis in medium-carbon contract discounts was due to aggressive quoting from one party trying to gain a greater market share.

However, a source from the company rejected the notion that his company had sacrificed pricing for volume.

"One of our biggest customers accepted a lower discount on medium-carbon without even questioning it, but we were not successful everywhere with the lower discount and we did not book the business. We walked away, as we were not going to accept anything less favorable than that," he said. 

Sources indicated that negotiations with the major consumer could drag into 2014 if they aren't finalized before Christmas.