SHANGHAI, Jan 9 (SMM) – Operating rates across Chinese primary lead smelters averaged 65.56% in December, up 2.46 percentage points from November and up 5.83 percentage points from December 2017, SMM data showed.
End of maintenance and production targets at the year-end accounted for the increase in operating rate. Rates across plants with annual capacity of 50,000-100,000 mt increased by 5.44 percentage points to 63.95%. Smelters of Henan Qinling and Shandong Hengbang recovered from maintenance, and Jiangxi Copper moved up a gear to meet annual production targets.
Operating rate across large-sized smelters, with annual capacity above 100,000 mt, lowered 0.45 percentage point month on month in December, to 72.51%, as Henan Yuguang cut production by some 3,000 mt that month. The smelter will return to normal operation in January-February.
For January, SMM expects operating rate to average 64.43% across Chinese primary lead smelters, down 1.13 percentage point from December, as smelters slow operation after high gears’ work at the end of 2018.