SHANGHAI, Jan. 31 (SMM) –
Data from China Customs showed that China’s lead concentrate imports during January were 149,200 mt, up 14.77% from December’s 130,000 mt.
Inbound lead concentrate shipments to Chinese ports were largely booked between December and early January. Two factors encouraged lead smelters to increase lead concentrate imports during January.
First, lead concentrate output declined considerably in January since production at Chinese mines was hampered by cold weather conditions and closures during the Chinese New Year holiday. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that China’s lead concentrate output during December was 266,000 mt, down nearly 20% from November. The sharp fall in lead concentrate supply, together with low lead and by-products prices, caused a large number of small smelters, which rely solely on domestic raw material supply, to suspend production. Medium and large-size smelters were forced to increase lead concentrate imports to maintain normal production during and after the Chinese New Year holiday.
Meanwhile, during December, LME lead prices rallied to USD 2,290/mt from USD 2,050/mt, and lead smelters became active booking lead concentrate orders, believing that lead prices would rise further.
46.8% of lead concentrate imports during January came from Australia, Peru, Germany, and the US.
Data from China Customs revealed China’s refined lead imports during January totaled 26 mt, down from December’s 142 mt. The Shanghai/LME lead price ratio was only 6.5 during January, which less-than-favorable for refined lead imports. In addition, lead ingot demand from lead-acid battery producers was negatively affected by the Chinese New Year holiday. These two factors limited refined lead imports, which were mainly from Japan and Germany.
China’s refined lead exports during January were 1,438 mt, down 45.3% from December. Since last September, China has exported over 2,000 mt of refined lead each month in the form of custom manufacturing or processing using supplied materials. The majority of exporters are located in Hunan province, and 96% of total refined lead exports during January were shipped to Taiwan, Vietnam, and India.