Fanya indium stockpile goes unsold in China auction

BEIJING, Dec 30 (Reuters) - The auction of around 3,609 tonnes of minor metal indium once held by China’s defunct Fanya Metal Exchange ended on Monday without a bid, with the quantity on sale - equal to five years’ global supply - proving too much for buyers.

The auction page on e-commerce platform Taobao clocked up almost 10,000 views before and during the 24-hour bidding window that closed at 0200 GMT, underscoring the intense interest in the vast stockpile of the silvery metal used in consumer electronics. But no one registered to take part.

The Kunming Intermediate People’s Court has this year been selling off Fanya’s old inventories to raise money to pay back creditors after the exchange collapsed in 2015.

The indium ingots that were on sale, with an opening price of about 2.85 billion yuan ($408 million), would have added significantly to the proceeds.

It would take a “giant” producer of indium tin oxide - a material used in flat-panel displays - to buy such a large quantity of indium, one China-based indium purchaser said.

“The problem is that foreign companies are not able to buy directly,” the purchaser said, referring to the need to bid via a China-based entity.

Foreign firms would also need to watch tax issues if exporting the indium out of China, he added, while for a trading company, putting so much metal in stock would be “too high risk”.

Spot indium prices in China AM-99C-INDM have fallen some 40% this year, weighed down by the Fanya inventory overhang, to 895 yuan per kg, but the auction asking price was even lower at around 790 yuan per kg.

A court official said it was as yet unclear whether the indium would be re-auctioned in 2020 and that any notifications would be made on the court’s Taobao auction account.

It is the second time this year the court has failed to attract bidders in an indium auction.

The first Fanya auction in January saw a much smaller batch of 34.64 tonnes of indium go unsold, with the asking price then lowered to 1,080 per kg in a second, successful auction in April.

($1 = 6.9814 yuan)

Reporting by Tom Daly; editing by Richard Pullin