SHANGHAI, Jun. 19 (SMM) – A recent SMM survey of 12 major domestic secondary lead smelters (total capacity: 1.705 million mt/yr) revealed the following insights:
1) May Operating Rates at Secondary Lead Smelters Up As Large Smelters Restart
SMM’s survey of 12 major domestic secondary lead smelters revealed the average operating rate at the surveyed smelters rose to 70.72% during May due to the restart of operations at large smelters.
Operating rates at large secondary lead smelters with capacities over 100,000 mt/yr were up in May, helping raise the average operating rate for all smelters from April’s level.
SMM sources report orders at lead-acid battery producers, particularly motive and ignition battery producers, remained disappointing in May, but finished battery inventories were still down from a month ago due to price cuts and sales promotions. Battery producers maintained production to meet demand and only purchased raw materials as needed. Recovery in operating rates at secondary lead smelters also raised overall rates following production stoppages while environmental protection inspections were carried out during April.
Secondary lead smelters with capacities below 100,000 mt/yr were more sensitive to market conditions, and given sluggish demand, most of these smelters opted to cut production, causing the average operating rate to fall by 5%.
2) Raw Material Inventory Levels Vary According to Enterprise Scale
Scrap battery inventories during June showed that raw material inventories at lead-acid battery producers varied according to enterprise scale and risk tolerance during current economic conditions. Scrap battery recycling at larger enterprises remained normal, but production at these enterprises was restricted by soft demand, allowing raw material inventories to increase in early June as financial pressures eased. In contrast, those SMEs less tolerant of risk were under greater financial pressure, and coupled with uncertainty surrounding the upcoming Greek election, SMEs were unwilling to purchase large volumes of raw materials since scrap battery prices may fall.