SHANGHAI, Oct. 31 (SMM) –
China’s lead concentrate imports totaled 205,300 mt in October, up 55.6% from September’s 132,000 mt, and a new high for 2013. YTD imports fell 17.32% YoY to 1.26 million mt through the first ten months of this year.
There are two major factors accounting for the new high in lead concentrate imports during October. First, LME lead prices stabilized in the middle of September after a drop from a high of USD 2,256/mt in August, then hovered around USD 2,080/mt for almost a month, providing opportunities for lead smelters to import lead concentrate.
Second, data from a SMM survey revealed that the average operating rate at primary lead smelters moved higher after maintenance beginning in July was completed. October’s average rate matched the year’s high of 62.04%, which boosted demand for lead concentrate.
China imported the largest volume of lead concentrate from the US and Russia in October, around 20% of the total volume, with the greatest proportion coming from the Red Dog mine in the US. Belgium, Poland, Peru, North Korea, Germany and Australia all exported over 10,000 mt of lead concentrate to China.
China’s refined lead imports were only 14 mt during October 2013, little changed from September’s 5 mt, while YTD imports were down by 89.25% YoY to 673 mt through the first ten months of this year. The Shanghai/LME lead price ratio hovered around 6.6 during October, which was less than favorable for refined lead imports. Combined with oversupply of domestic refined lead, demand for refined lead imports was sluggish. The main suppliers to China were South Korea and Germany.
China exported 2,753 mt of refined lead in October, up 19.96% from a month ago, while YTD exports through October amounted to 17,100 mt, up around ten-fold from a year earlier. Most exports were sent to Asian countries including South Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia.