SHANGHAI, Jan 4 (SMM) - Lead price movement was choppy in 2022. The most-traded SHFE lead contract closed last year at 15,925 yuan/mt, up 3.61% on the year. LME lead fluctuated as much as 55%, but registered a yearly rise of merely 0.17%.
The average price of SMM 1# lead ingot was 15,725 yuan/mt as of December 30, increase of 525 yuan/mt or 3.45% from the beginning of the year.
According to SMM data, from January to November 2022, the primary lead production in China increased 1.89% year-on-year. Taking into account factors such as roll-out of new production capacity in the fourth quarter and the relaxation of pandemic control, SMM estimates that the annual primary lead production in 2022 will be about 3.21 million mt.
According to SMM data, the cumulative domestic secondary lead output from January to November 2022 stood at 3.87 million mt, an increase of 5.11% YoY. This included 3.39 million mt of secondary refined lead, down 2.01% YoY.
According to SMM data, after a brief rise in early-to-mid March 2022, the social inventory of lead ingots in the five major regions showed an overall downward trend. As of December 30, the social inventory stood at 38,200 mt, a staggering drop of 59.06% from the beginning of the year.
SMM expects that the national lead-acid battery production will increase by 3% year-on-year in 2022, a slowdown compared with 2021. China’s lead supply growth fell short of expectations in 2022, and the oversupply was extended. Some of the surplus lead ingots were exported to overseas markets.
Lead market outlook for 2023
Looking into 2023, the supply of lead concentrates is expected to increase slightly with the subsiding impact of the pandemic and commissioning of other mining projects that also contain lead ore, but the overall supply will maintain a tight balance. Lead consumption is expected to recover slightly in 2023.
Lead prices will be suppressed in H1 2023 as rising COVID infections coincides with the off-season of lead-acid battery, but are poised for significant gains in H2 with arrival of the peak season in lead-acid battery market.