SHANGHAI, Dec. 3 (SMM) –
China Customs show that China imported 176,600 mt of lead concentrate in October, down 13.99% YoY and 13.01% MoM, but still the second highest volume this year. YTD concentrate imports through October, however, increased 17.91% to 1.48 million mt. SMM attributes the high lead concentrate imports to three factors.
First, lead concentrate supply has been tight in domestic markets this year, and China’s smelters have begun building up input inventories for winter since September. As such, these smelters looked to search out concentrate suppliers overseas.
Second, LME lead prices fell from USD 2,250/mt in early September to less than USD 2,050/mt in mid-October. As a result, the SMM/LME lead price ratio rose from 6.59 to 6.75 in October, helping losses from lead concentrate imports narrow to around RMB 200/mt.
Third, the rise in TCs for imported lead concentrate drove China’s smelters and traders to buy actively. SMM research shows that TCs for imported lead concentrate with low silver content (Pb 60%, silver content below 1,000g) rose from USD 150/dmt to USD 155/dmt.
TCs for imported concentrate hovered mostly at USD 150-160/dmt in November, but are expected to edge up to USD 155-165/dmt in December as cargo holders rush to sell against shortages of cash towards year’s end.
China imported lead concentrate from a total of 30 countries in October. Imports from the US which ranked the first by volume, however, decreased 18.77% from September to 45,800 mt, whereas imports from Australia surged 104% MoM to 42,700 mt in October. Imports from Poland, Russia, and Mexico also exceeded 10,000 mt. As such, the number of countries exporting more than 10,000 mt of lead concentrate to China dropped from 7 in September to 5 in October.
Data from China Customs indicate that China imported 23 mt of refined lead in October and 187 mt in the first ten months, down sharply 75.14%.
China imported 20 mt of concentrate from Japan and the other 3 mt from Germany in October. Imports from Japan accounted for 67.4% of the total and 10.7% from Germany in the first ten months.
Lead alloy imports rose 230% MoM to 3,365 mt in October, while lead plate/sheet and other lead semis imports were only 21mt and 4 mt, respectively.
China’s refined lead exports fell around a half to 1,212 mt in October, among which 912 mt headed for Vietnam and 300 mt for Taiwan. YTD exports through October expanded 54.4% to 26,300 mt. Lead plate/sheet, alloy and other lead semis exports were 2,007 mt, 72 mt and 215 mt in October, respectively. Net exports of lead products were 93 in October, down sharply from 3,900 mt in September.