SHANGHAI, Aug. 1 (SMM) –
According to China Customs, China's imports of lead concentrate were 89,101 mt in June, up 6.33% MoM. YTD imports through June totaled 661 kt, up 9.68% YoY.
Despite MoM growth in imports, China's lead concentrate imports in June were still low compared to the past two years. SMM believes sluggish domestic lead prices depressed domestic smelter interest in imports. During May and June, LME lead prices fluctuated at low levels, while domestic spot lead prices were sluggish, moving below RMB 16,000/mt, despite later rallying to RMB 16,200/mt in late June.
China's lead concentrate imports from Russia and Peru both exceeded 10 kt in June. China imported 18,733 mt of lead concentrate from Russia, up nearly 30% YoY and accounting for 21% of China's total imports. China imported 16,448 mt of lead concentrate from Peru, down 39.55% YoY, and 18% of China’s total.
China imported lead concentrate from an additional 15 countries in June with volumes ranging from 1,000 mt 10,000 mt. Sweden was the leading supplier among the 15 countries with 8,851 mt, accounting for 10% of total imports in June. Imports also exceeded 1,000 mt from Kazakhstan, North Korea, Honduras, Turkey, Germany, and Spain. Compared to May, the number of suppliers increased and is an indication domestic smelters are looking for new import channels.
According to China Customs, China's monthly imports and exports of refined lead in June hit their lowest level for the year. China's imports of refined lead were 427 mt in June, down 73.96% MoM. YTD imports through June were 4,489 mt, down 44.56% YoY. Exports of refined lead were 82 mt in June, down 94.42% MoM, and YTD exports through June were 5,747 mt, down 49.57% YoY.
South Korea and Japan were the only two overseas suppliers of lead in June, with imports of 417 mt and 11 mt, respectively. China's refined lead imports from South Korea were stable and with imports made during each month of this year, ranging from 100 mt to 500 mt/month. However, refined lead imports from Australia, Kazakhstan, and Russia have been unstable, with large volume changes in monthly imports from these countries.
China exported 82 mt of refined lead in June, the lowest monthly amount since 2009. The Shanghai/LME lead price ratio moved between 6.1-6.6 during June, unfavorable for exports. By contrast, China's exports of lead plate have been relatively stable since the start of 2011. Exports of lead plate were 3,976 mt in June, down 1,319 mt MoM, but still much higher than refined lead exports.