Metals News
SMM Pb Survey: Average Operating Rate at Secondary Lead Smelters Down Slightly in April
smm insight
May 14,2012

SHANGHAI, May 14 (SMM) – An SMM survey of 12 major domestic secondary lead smelters (total capacity: 1.685 million mt/yr) revealed the following insights:

According to an SMM survey of 12 major domestic secondary lead smelters, the average operating rate at secondary lead smelters during April was 64.70%, down slightly from March.

Secondary lead output during April came mainly from medium-size smelters with capacities between 100,000-150,000 mt/yr. Despite the resumption of production at some smelters following environmental protection inspections, operating rates at smelters were more affected by weak demand from lead-acid battery enterprises since most secondary lead smelters produce based primarily on sales orders. 

According to SMM’s survey of lead-acid battery producers, most enterprises, particularly electric vehicle lead-acid battery producers, saw a decline in orders during April due to early arrival of the seasonal low-demand period in late March, which resulted in excessive battery inventories and forced some enterprises to cut production. Both Tianneng Group and Chaowei Power began cutting battery prices at mid-April, and battery producers did not stock up on raw materials in large amounts before or after the May Day holiday. The same pattern, however, was not found in the automotive or communication lead-acid battery sectors, but since motive lead-acid batteries account for about one third of total battery demand, lower demand for electric vehicle batteries has dampened demand not only for #1 lead, but also for lead alloy and #2 lead. As a result, smelters cut procurement prices for scrap batteries, with prices remaining below RMB 8,100/mt and with some regions even reporting prices below RMB 7,900/mt. Not surprisingly, lower prices depressed scrap battery trading.

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