SHANGHAI, Jan. 28 (SMM) – Data from China Customs showed lead concentrate imports during December were 115,800 mt, down by 34.85% MoM. Total 2012 imports were 1.815 million mt, up 25.77% YoY.
The resolution of the Greek bailout issue in November increased risk appetite among investors and pushed up LME lead prices by nearly 10%. Average spot lead prices in China, however, fell to RMB 14,907/mt due to weak demand downstream and lowered the Shanghai/LME lead price ratio in November to 6.8, down from October’s 7.3. Since lead concentrate imports have remained high since July 2012, raw material inventories at primary lead smelters were still adequate, which reduced demand for imported concentrate during November.
Total lead concentrate imports grew sharply and rose 25.77% YoY, helping ease shortfalls in domestic concentrate supply. According to SMM data, the average TC for domestic lead concentrate rose from RMB 1,750/mt in early 2012 to RMB 1,950/mt by the end of the year.
Lead concentrate imports during December from three major suppliers, Russia, Australia, and Peru, accounted for 38.3% of total imports and was down sharply from the 61.6% and 49% proportion recorded in October and November. This decline from the three suppliers was due to lower-priced goods favored by domestic smelters in response to high LME lead prices in December. Imports from North Korea were flat at November’s levels.