SHANGHAI, Apr 14 (SMM) —Operating rates at China’s primary lead smelters stood at 66.54% in March, up 7.02 percentage points month on month and up 7.81% year on year. The survey involved 46 smelters with a total capacity of 5.05 million mt.
Lead ingot output increased 300-500 mt at least and the growth was up to 2,000-3,000 mt. At the same time, Henan Minshan, Hunan Jingui, Huaxin and Xing'an Silver and Lead have completed maintenance and resumed production. As such, production of refined lead increased significantly in March by over 30,000 mt. Operating rates at primary lead smelters increased year-on-year in March, driven by expanded capacity and post-pandemic recovery in March 2020 when some smelters delayed resumption.
Operating rates at large scale smelters with annual capacity above 100,000 mt rose 9.41% on the month to 74.21%. Henan Minshan and Xing'an Silver and Lead resumed production after overhaul.
Operating rates at medium-scale producers with annual capacity between 50,000-100,000 mt increased 6.03% to 59.78%. Some private primary lead factories in Hunan and Yunnan ceased production during CNY and the overall production recovered in March; Western Mining undertook maintenance in March.
Operating rates at small scale producers with annual capacity below 50,000 mt decreased 5.22% points month on month to 51.81%. Suspension at Gejiu Chuangyuan and maintenance at Huludao Zinc Industry accounted for the decline.
In April, Yunnan Chihong and Western Mining will enter the maintenance cycle for one month; Henan Yuguang plans to undertake 20 days maintenance; Yunnan Zhenxing Industry plans for 40 days maintenance, but only at smelting production lines. The impact on refined lead production will be limited. Some small and medium-scale enterprises in Hunan, Yunnan and other regions will resume production. Each company is likely to contribute 2,000-3,000 mt to monthly output if production is resumed as scheduled.
Refined lead output in April is expected to remain largely unchanged from March. SMM expects operating rates at refined lead smelters in April to rise 0.56 percentage point month-on-month to 67.1%.
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