SHANGHAI, Apr. 2 (SMM) – According to China Customs, China’s refined lead imports during February were 242 mt, rising sharply from January’s 30 mt. Imports through the first two months of 2013 were 272 mt, down 57.52% YoY.
Lead imports were low in January and February since operating rates at lead-acid battery producers were low and since adequate supply of cheap domestic lead depressed demand for imported lead. The Shanghai/LME lead price ratio was only 6.0-6.5 during January and February, leaving little incentive to import refined lead. Of the refined lead that was imported during February, 202 mt came from Australia and 40 mt was from Japan.
China exported 669 mt of refined lead during February, the highest volume since June 2011. Once the Shanghai/LME lead price ratio touched a low of 6.06 in early February, some exporters became more willing to export lead, with 99.8% of exports shipped to Taiwan (China), and the remainder to North Korea. Lead plate exports were also brisk in February, with exports hitting 3,555 mt. This volume was down sharply on a MoM basis, but still exceeded the monthly average of 1,200 mt from 2012. Some small lead smelters were reported to have exported lead plates to other Southeast Asian countries.