SHANGHAI, Apr. 22 (SMM) – According to the latest SMM survey of 12 major secondary lead smelters in China, the average operating rate at the surveyed smelters was 52.97%, up 2.97 percentage points from February’s 50%.
The average operating rate at large smelters with capacities above 150,000 mt/yr fell from February’s 76.55% to 58.87% in March, down 17.68 percentage points, largely a result of Anhui Huaxin Lead halting production for a week due to maintenance of its environmental protection equipment.
Operating rates at medium and small smelters rose in March to 46.84% and 56.62%, respectively, up 16.71 percentage points and 46.09 percentage points MoM. The resumption of production following the Chinese New Year holiday contributed largely to the increase in operating rates, with Asia Recycling Resources, Anxin Huacheng Nonferrous Product, Baoding Anjian Nonferrous Metal, Tianjin Dongbang Recycled Lead Material, and Xinyu Non-ferrous Metals Recycle Resource all restarting production during March.
Increased scrap battery supply was another factor boosting operating rates at secondary lead smelters. Since many scrap battery recyclers suspended operation in late January, tight supply has constrained secondary lead production. As recyclers restarted operations after the Lantern Festival on February 24th, raw material supply for secondary lead smelters began to grow.
Despite increasing from February, the March 52.97% rate was still relatively low, due to firm scrap battery prices and falling secondary lead prices, which squeezed profit margins at secondary lead smelters. Prices for secondary lead and secondary refined lead fell during March by RMB 200/mt and RMB 250/mt, respectively, but scrap battery prices were only down by RMB 100/mt over the same period.