SHANGHAI, Dec. 31 (SMM) –
China’s lead concentrate imports during December were 130,000 mt, up 24.57% from November’s 104,500 mt. China Customs also reports that total imports during 2013 were 1.49 million mt, down 17.76% on a YoY basis.
Lead concentrate shipments arriving at ports during December were mainly booked from November to early December. During the same period, LME lead prices fell to USD 2,050/mt, down from USD 2,200/mt in early November, and falling below the USD 2,100/mt mark for the first time since late September 2013. SMM sources report that the increase in imports were due to lead smelters actively ordering raw material lead concentrates for winter production since domestic concentrate supply was tight.
The majority of lead concentrate imports arriving during December were sourced from Australia, Russia, the US, and Canada, accounting for 54% of China’s total imports.
China’s refined lead imports during December were 142 mt, up 610% from November’s 20 mt. Total imports for 2013 were 835 mt, down 87.77% from a year earlier.
China’s lead-acid battery producers were largely depleting finished goods inventories during late 2013, and lead ingot supply overseas was in shortages. The Shanghai/LME lead price ratio fell to 6.7 from the average during 2012 of 7.5. As a result, demand for refined lead imports was weak during 2013. During the year, Vietnam and South Korea accounted for 93% of China’s total refined lead imports.
China’s refined lead exports during December were 2,631 mt, up 17.67% from November, while total exports during 2013 were 21,900 mt, up 890% from 2012. Shortages of lead ingot overseas and the falling Shanghai/LME lead price ratio were both favorable for lead ingot exports from China, with most lead ingots during 2013 exported to Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.