SHANGHAI, Sept. 30 (SMM) –
China imported 203,000 mt of lead concentrate in September, up 53.62% YoY and 31.7% MoM. YTD imports through September increased 24.07% YoY to 1.31 million mt.
SMM noted that increasing shortages of domestic lead concentrate was the main reason behind the sharp increase in concentrate imports in September.
Chifeng Shanjin Silver & Lead put its 100,000 mt/yr lead smelting facility into production in late July. Meanwhile, Chihong Zn & Ge started trial production at a 60,000 mt/yr lead smelting facility in Hulun Buir, Inner Mongolia. Chihong Zn & Ge and Shandong Gold Group’s lead-zinc mines slowed sales of lead concentrate. These factors, combined with persistently tight lead concentrate supply in China, have compounded lead concentrate shortages.
SMM finds that the Shanghai/LME lead price ratio has been hovering around 6.6 since September, which does not favor lead concentrate imports.
The number of countries from which China imported lead concentrate in September rose to 34. China imported 56,000 mt of lead concentrate from the US in September, up 26.8% from August and accounting for 27.8% of the total, due to the arrival of concentrate from the Red Dog Mine. China’s imported a total of 90,300 mt of lead concentrate from Australia, Russia, Germany, Peru, Belgium, and North Korea, making up 72.31% of the total.
China exported 2,448 mt of refined lead in September, down 19.34% MoM, but up 6.69% YoY. YTD exports through the first nine months spiked 75.65% to 25,100 mt, according to China Customs.
SMM noted that China exported 1,897 mt of refined lead to Vietnam in September, representing 77.49% of the total.
China exported 8,008 mt of refined lead to Vietnam during the first nine months of the year, up 42 times to 31.88% of the national total. At the same time, exports to Taiwan grew 387.57% to 8,933 mt, or 35.56% of the total.
The International Lead & Zinc Study Group reported earlier that Vietnam and Taiwan posted 31,000 mt and 51,000 mt of shortfalls in lead ingot during the first seven months, helping drive up China’s exports to these two areas.
SMM calculates that some Chinese lead-acid battery producers may have shifted production to Vietnam this year against stringent environmental protection inspections and rising labor costs in China. This may well explain the boost in Vietnamese demand for lead ingot.
China imported only 5 mt of refined lead in September, all of which came from Germany and South Korea. YTD imports through September tumbled 75.14% to 164 mt. During the first nine months, 64% of China’s refined lead imports were from Japan, while the remaining was mostly from South Korea and Germany.
SMM understands that the steep fall in China’s refined lead imports in the first nine months was due in large part to the low Shanghai/LME lead price ratio and abundant lead ingot supply in domestic markets. The International Lead & Zinc Study Group reported earlier that China recorded a 41,000 mt of surpluses surplus in lead ingot during the first seven months.