Commodity prices: metals, materials and chemicals?

Annual commodity prices are tabulated in this database for 70 material commodities, as a useful reference file; covering steel prices, other metal prices, chemicals prices, polymer prices, with data going back to 2012, all compared in $/ton. 2022 was a record year for commodities. The average material commodity traded 25% above its 10-year average and 60% of all material commodities made ten-year highs.


Material commodity prices flow into the costs of producing substantively everything consumed by human civilization, and increasingly consumed as part of the energy transition. Hence this database of annual commodity prices is intended as a useful reference file. Note it only covers metals, materials and chemicals. Energy commodities and agricultural commodities are covered in other TSE data-files.

Source and methodology. The underlying source for this commodity price database is the UN’s Comtrade. This useful resource covers trade between all UN member countries, across thousands of categories, in both value terms ($) and mass terms (kg). Dividing values (in $) by masses (in kg) yields an effective price (in $/kg or $/ton). We have then aggregated, cleaned and averaged the data for 70 materials commodities.

The median commodity in the data-file costs $2,500/ton on an unweighted basis. Although this ranges from $20/ton for aggregates to $75M per ton for palladium metal.

2022 was a record year for material commodity prices. The average material commodity priced 25% above its 10-year average and 40 of the 70 commodities in the data-base made 10-year highs.

Steel prices reached ten-year highs in 2022, averaging $2,000/ton across the different steel grades that are assessed in the data-file. This matters as 2GTpa of steel form one of the most important underpinnings in all global construction. Our steel research is aggregated here.

Commodity prices
Steel Price by year by steel grade in $ per ton

Base metal prices averaged 40% above their ten year averages in 2022, as internationally traded prices rose sharply for nickel, rose modestly for aluminium and zinc, and remained high for copper (chart below).

Commodity prices
Base metal prices by year and over time for zinc aluminium copper and nickel in $ per ton

Battery metals and materials prices rose most explosively in 2022, due to bottlenecks in lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite. This is motivating a shift in battery chemistries, both for vehicles and for energy storage. It also means that the average battery material in our datafile was higher priced than the average Rare Earth metal in the data-file (which is unusual, but not the first time).

Commodity prices
Battery material prices over time $ per ton for lithium cobalt manganese nickel LiPF6 and lithium carbonate in $ per ton

Commodity chemicals all rose in 2022, across every category tracked in our chart below. These chemicals matter as intermediates. On average sodium hydroxide prices reached $665/ton in 2022, sulphuric acid prices reached $140/ton and nitric acid prices reached $440/ton.

Commodity prices
Industrial Acids and Caustic Soda Prices over time NaH H2O2 HCl H2SO4 Sulfuric Acid HNO3 Nitric Acid H3PO4 Phosphoric Acid HCN and HF in $ per ton

500MTpa of global plastics and polymers demand is covered in our plastics demand database. Both finished polymer prices (first chart) and underlying olefins and aromatics (as produced by naphtha crackers, second chart) prices rose sharply in 2022. Our recent research has wondered whether terms of trade are likely to become particularly constructive for polyurethanes.

Commodity prices
Polymer prices by year LDPE HDPE PET EVA Polyurethanes Paints and Adhesives in $ per ton
Commodity prices
Olefins and Aromatics Prices over time

Silicon prices matter as they feed in to the costs of solar, and traded silicon prices also reached ten year highs in 2022, before correcting sharply in 2023. Silica prices surpassed $70/ton, silicon metal prices reached $4,000/ton and polysilicon prices surpassed $30/kg (charts below).

Commodity prices
Silica price, silicon price and polysilicon price in $ per ton

The full database captures 70 globally traded materials commodities and their annual prices over time in $/ton, year by year, from 2012-2022. These are: Acrylonitrile prices, Adhesives prices, Aggregates prices, Aluminium prices, Ammonia prices, Battery Graphite prices, Benzene prices, Butadiene prices, Carbon Fiber prices, Cement prices, Cobalt prices, Cobalt Oxide prices, Cold Rolled Steel prices, Concrete prices, Copper prices, Copper Wire prices, Cumene prices, Electric Motor and Generator prices, Electrical Transformer prices, Epoxide prices, Ethanol prices, Ethylene prices, Ethylene Oxide prices, EVA prices, Formaldehyde prices, Glass Fiber prices, Gold prices, Graphite Anode prices, Graphite paste prices, HCl prices, HDPE prices, HF prices, Hot Rolled Steel prices, Hydrogen Peroxide prices, Integrated Circuit prices, LDPE prices, LiPF6 prices, Lithium Carbonate prices, Lithium Metal prices, Manganese prices, Manganese Oxide prices, Methanol prices, NaCN prices, Nickel prices, Nitric Acid prices, Paint prices, Palladium prices, PET prices, Phosphoric Acid prices, Platinum prices, Polyethylene prices, Polysilicon prices, Polyurethane prices, Propylene prices, Propylene Oxide prices, PTFE prices, Rare Earth Magnet prices, Scandium & Yttrium prices, Silica prices, Silicon Metal prices, Silver prices, Sodium Hydroxide prices, Stainless Steel prices, Steel Alloy prices, Sulfuric Acid prices, Toluene prices, Tubular Steel prices, Urea prices, Vehicle prices, Xylene prices, Zinc prices.

Oscar Wilde noted that the cynic is the man who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing. To avoid falling into this trap, we also have economic models for most of the commodities in this commodity price database too.

We will continue adding to this commodity price database amidst our ongoing research. You may find our template useful for running Comtrade queries of your own. Or alternatively, if you are a TSE subscription client and we can help you to use this useful resource, then please do email us any time.

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2019-2024.