SHANGHAI, Apr. 3 (SMM) – The NBS reports China’s refined lead production dropped 5.35% YoY over the first two months to 654,977 mt. SMM’s survey indicates that the average operating rate at lead smelters in January-February slipped to 55.55% from 58.46% last year. This was mostly due to many lead-acid battery producers closing early for the Chinese New Year holiday this year, compounding inventory pressures on smelters. Besides, the depressed lead price discouraged lead smelters from producing. Lead prices hovered near RMB 12,500/mt over the first two months this year, compared with RMB 14,000/mt for the same period last year.
The low operating rates at primary lead smelters allowed TCs for lead concentrate to rise to RMB 1,800-1,900/mt. TCs were at record lows of RMB 1,600-1,700/mt at the beginning of 2014 as lead concentrate supply fell short.