SHANGHAI, Feb. 6 (SMM) –
According to China Customs, China imported 138,000 mt of lead concentrate in December 2011, up 1.29% MoM, while the total imports in 2011 reached 1.44 million mt, down 9.96% from 2010.
Most lead concentrate imports during December were from the Peru, Australia, and Russia, with these three sources accounting for over 50% of the total imports. China also imported lead concentrate from other countries, including Iran, South Africa, and South Korea. LME lead prices began moving up from USD 1,800/mt in late October to over RMB 2,000/mt in December. Domestic spot prices also moved higher with rising LME lead prices to hit RMB 15,500/mt in early December, leaving the Shanghai/LME lead price ratio above 7.5 and favorable for imports. However, markets were cautious toward importing of lead concentrate due to macro-economic concerns in Europe, so lead concentrate imports remained basically stable in December.
Data from China Customs showed China's refined lead imports in December were 477 mt, down 11% from November, while total imports for 2011 were 6,611 mt, also down 69.3% YoY. In December, no refined lead exports were reported, while total 2011 exports were 6,128 mt, down 73.44% YoY.
Over the past two years, China's refined lead trading volumes, particularly exports, were following a downward trend. Monthly refined lead exports were below 100 mt since June 2011, with no exports at all during four of those months. Due to high domestic output, refined lead supply in China is sufficient and imports are only made if profits are available. Economic recovery in Europe and US remains slow, leading to low demand for refined lead exports from China. In addition, Chinese import and export duties allow only low profits for refined lead imports and exports.