SHANGHAI, Mar. 31 (SMM) –
China Customs reported refined zinc imports in March were 68,200 mt, down 7.2% YoY, but up 75.88% MoM.
Imports were up on the month as the Chinese New Year holiday factor disappeared. But the SHFE/LME zinc price ratio has been low since February, dropping below 7 at one point. When combined with RMB depreciation, import losses increased significantly, depressing market sentiment. Import premiums dropped from USD 180/mt in February to USD 155/mt, with import losses above RMB 1,000/mt, once pointing toward RMB 2,000/mt.
Imports from Kazakhstan, Australia, Belgium and Peru were the largest, with 25,700 mt, 15,500 mt, 9,600 mt and 4,600 mt, respectively, combining to 72.86% in total imports. Imports from Kazakhstan surged 19,700 mt on the month, imports from Australia increased by 13,500 mt and imports from Peru were up 3,200 mt.
According to China Customs, zinc concentrate imports in March were 153,900 mt, down 11.2% MoM but up 111.01% YoY.
SMM has learnt that the drop in imports is due to the low SHFE/LME zinc price ratio, RMB depreciation and weakening competitiveness of imported ore. Besides, as domestic mines restarted production following the Chinese New Year holiday, demand for imported ore fell; in addition, finance-driven imports decreased due to easing cash flow tightness.
The number of supplying countries increased to 22, up 4 from February. Peru, Australia and Burkina Faso were the largest suppliers of zinc concentrate in March, but no imports were made from Ireland. Burkina Faso exported ore to China for the first time in 10 years.
Imports made via Nanning, Nanjing, Shijiazhuang, Tianjin, Shenyang and Lanzhou port were the largest, coming up to 94.42% in total imports.