Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

The ferrosilicon industries in Pasakha Industrial Estate have been thriving during the pandemic time.

But there are challenges.

Before the border gates were sealed on March 23, the market price for ferrosilicon was Nu 89,000 per metric tonne (MT), an increase from a low Nu 66,000 per MT in 2019. Today, the market price has plummeted to Nu 77,000 per MT.

The cost of importing raw materials has been increasing.

An official from one of the industries said the cost of raw materials have increased because of supply disruptions.

“There is scarcity. Raw materials supply has stopped from source itself,” he said. “Due to this, most of the industries are operating on reduced loads.”

Industries import raw materials such as semi-coke, gas coke from China and charcoal, Low Ash Metallurgical Coke, high-grade quartz from India.

A manager with an industry also said the cost of transporting raw materials up to Kolkata had gone up by about USD 25-40 per MT in comparison to the price in April this year. “Now we have to pay USD 243 per MT until Kolkata.”

When the ferrosilicon prices increase, the Indian market also starts production. The price fluctuation is also largely attributed to the production in India. Whenever India produces more, the price drops in Bhutan.

However, India annually imports around 300,000MT of ferrosilicon from countries like Bhutan, China, and Norway. Usually, Bhutanese ferrosilicon industries produce about 10,000MT to 12,000MT of ferrosilicon in a month, which is not the case today due to the pandemic.