SHANGHAI, Jun. 4 (SMM) –
China Customs reports China’s zinc concentrate imports in April were 233,000 mt, up 85.63% YoY, but down 1.69% MoM. YTD imports through April were 960,000 mt, up 42.37% YoY.
SMM attributes this sharp YoY growth to high operating rates at domestic zinc smelters. The most recent SMM survey reveals the average operating rate at major domestic zinc smelters in April was 78.42%, up from the 72.54% during the same period last year.
In addition, imported zinc concentrate held a price advantage over domestic concentrate. Profit from imported zinc concentrate was RMB 450/mt (zinc content) higher than domestic zinc concentrate in March when importers placed orders, compared to the RMB 1,000/mt (zinc content) loss of the first during the same period last year.
48,000 mt of zinc concentrate imports were from bonded zone inventories (including pilot area under Customs supervision) in April.
Of the top 10 importers, 7 are producers. Imports by Huludao Zinc Industry Company added 33,000 mt to 44,000 mt. Anhui Tongguan Non-ferrous Metals imported 26,000 mt of zinc concentrate, with imports by Zhuzhou Smelter Group up 9,000 mt to 20,000 mt. Imports by Guangxi Hechi Nanfang Nonferrous Metals Company grew 15,000 mt to 20,000 mt. China Nonferrous Metal Industry's Foreign Engineering and Construction (Erenhot) Company reported 1,000 mt increase to 11,000 mt. Zijin Mining’s imports grew to 10,000 mt. Zinc concentrate imports by Yuguang Zinc Industry Company decreased 20,000 mt to 9,000 mt.
The number of zinc concentrate supplying countries increased 6 to 21 in April. Australia was the largest zinc concentrate supplying country, with imports up 31,000 MoM to 101,000 mt. Imports from Peru declined 46,000 mt to 59,000 mt. Imports from Mongolia grew 1,000 mt to 11,000 mt. Imports from Russia climbed 1,000 mt to 10,000 mt, with 9,000 mt from Burkina Faso and 8,000 mt from Saudi Arabia.
China Customs reports China imported 51,200 mt of zinc in April 2015, down 21% YoY, but up 25.2% MoM. YTD imports through April were 133,000 mt, down 49.3% YoY.
The SMM/LME zinc price ratio stayed high during March and April, incentivizing importers. When combined with low imports over the past few months, zinc imports in April hit an 8-month high.
Nonetheless, imports during the first four months were only 50% of the same period last year. The SMM/LME zinc price ratio between January and April averaged 7.35, lower than the 7.59 average during the same period last year, which caused import losses and depressed importers. Besides, operating rates at major domestic zinc smelters in the first four months of this year averaged 77.86%, 5 percentage points higher than the same period last year, reducing demand for imported zinc.
India, Kazakhstan, South Korea and Australia were the four largest zinc supplying countries for China in April, with 19,600 mt, 16,900 mt, 11,800 mt and 1,900 mt, respectively. Imports from India were up 13-fold YoY, while zinc imports from South Korea leapt 237.1% MoM.
China exported 12,691 mt of zinc in April, up 55-fold on the YoY basis. YTD exports through April were 52,180 mt, up over 79-fold. China’s exports have remained above 10,000 mt for the ninth straight month.
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