According to China Customs, China imported 183,400 mt of zinc concentrate in January 2013, up 3.5% MoM, but down 1.47% YoY.
Zinc concentrate imports grew in the first month of 2013 due to two reasons. First, operating rates at domestic zinc smelters in January slipped, but still remained at high levels, with strong demand for zinc concentrate. But since domestic mines continued to hold back goods, and as their production was affected due to the Chinese New Year holiday factor, demand for imported zinc concentrate improved. Second, importers gave discounts and quoted TC to USD 130/mt, and that also stimulated smelter buying interest for imported ore.
Imports from Australia, Canada, Peru, Mongolia and Ireland all exceeded 10,000 mt, with import quantity from the five countries accounting for over 80% of total imports for the month. Imports from Canada grew by 9,000 mt, while imports from Turkey fell sharply to 3,800 mt.
According to China Customs, China imported 50,100 mt of refined zinc in January 2013, down 25% MoM, but up 7.8% YoY.
Zinc ingot imports slid in January 2013 due to a falling SHFE/LME zinc price ratio. According to SMM statistics, the SHFE/LME zinc price ratio fell to 7.40-7.50 during December 2012 and early January 2013, which is unfavorable for imports. As a result, importers were unwilling to place orders, causing import volume to shrink.
Besides, downstream enterprises began to suspend production as the Chinese New Year holiday neared, so demand for zinc ingot contracted, and this also led to sluggish demand for imported zinc ingot.
Imports from Australia unexpectedly grow to 23,900, while none imports were made from Spain. Imports from Peru, South Korea and Kazakhstan also shrank.