SHANGHAI, Oct. 23 -- China's lead output fell just 6% in September, a smaller loss than expected from the string of smelter shutdowns in the lead poisoning crackdown, said market sources.
Lead output fell 6% from the record high in August to 342,000 mt in September, remaining 8% higher year-on-year, according to the national statistics bureau.
"We were expecting big losses in September, but the result turned out better [than expected]," said an analyst in Shanghai.
The figures have prompted speculation that some of the smelters ordered to shut down last month continued to operate, he said.
"Things may change for the October figures. So far, we've heard that more than 30 smelters have been asked to shut down in Jiyuan, Henan," he added.
China has suspended an estimated 18,000 tpm of crude lead capacity in the lead-producing base of Jiyuan in Henan province and production is not expected to resume this year .
Those ordered to suspend their lead sinters include Henan Yuguang Gold & Lead Co, China's largest lead smelter.
For the nine months so far, China's lead output has risen 21% year-on-year to 2.84 million mt.
Meanwhile, the country's zinc output fell back too.
Zinc production fell to 410,000 mt in September after record highs in July and August, down 1% month-on-month but still 19% higher year-on-year, according to the national statistics bureau.
"I don't think the lead capacity closures have or will a negative effect on zinc output," said a trader in Shenzhen. "It is just normal fluctuation."
In the first nine months, the country also produced 3.1 million mt of zinc, up 5% year-on-year.
(Source: Metal Bulletin)