SHANGHAI, Nov. 4 (SMM) –
China Customs reported that China imported 60,400 mt of zinc during September, down 17.39% YoY, but up 15.92% MoM. YTD imports through September were up 10.56% YoY to 414,900 mt.
SMM sources report some enterprises that recently conducted maintenance restarted production in September. Operating rates at domestic smelters were also higher due to rising TC for zinc ore, which helped raise zinc output and depress zinc imports. The SHFE/LME zinc price ratio continued to fall as well, falling from 8 in early August to the early September mark of 7.7-7.8, which is unfavorable for importers. As a result, zinc import growth contracted significantly during September.
Imports from Belgium account for the lion's share of the 9,800 mt imports to China. A large amount of Belgium zinc surged into China prior to October 1st, significantly impacting China's #1 zinc market and causing the price spread between #1 zinc and #0 zinc to expand by over RMB 100/mt. Zinc imports from the Netherlands jumped by 5,300 mt, to 8,700 mt. Another 7,300 mt was imported from Spain, up 1,400 mt MoM, but zinc imports from Australia only totaled 3,100 mt, a drop of 4,500 mt MoM.
China Customs report China imported 119,700 mt of zinc concentrate in September 2013, down 27.44% MoM, and 36.10% YoY; YTD imports through August were 1.4821 million mt, up 7.21% YoY.
NBS reported China produced 527,000 mt of zinc concentrate in September, compared to the 452,000 mt of zinc output in the same month, domestic ore supply is sufficient. SMM sources report TC of zinc concentrate (50%) in September was RMB 5,100-5,500/mt, up RMB 100-200/mt from August's level, while TC for imported zinc concentrate remained between USD 125-135/mt. As domestic mines raised discounts for smelters, smelters preferred to buy domestic ore while reducing ore imports.
The falling SHFE/LME zinc price ratio is also attributable to zinc concentrate import declines. SMM statistics shows the SHFE/LME zinc price ratio dropped from 8, to 7.7-7.8 during early August and early September, unfavorable for importers, and pushing down zinc concentrate imports in September.
China imported zinc concentrate from 19 countries in September, unchanged from August, with imports from Peru, Australia and Turkey the highest, to account for 63.54% in the total. Imports from Australia fell to 21,900 mt, down 29,000 mt from August, or 57.0%. Imports from Peru fell 8,300 mt, to 42,600 mt, down 16.3%. Imports from Turkey dropped 2,900 mt, to 11,600 mt, down 19.9%. Imports decline from the three countries dragged down total imports in September.