Treatment charges (TCs) for spot zinc concentrates continued to rise over the past week after an open arbitrage into China and agreement on higher prices led to a flurry of deals earlier in the month.
Meanwhile, spot prices for lead concentrates dropped, although the market was persistently lacking in supply. The zinc market is still in transition from being more tightly supplied than at any other time for a decade, to having a more balanced future. Fastmarkets assessed spot zinc concentrate TCs, cif Asia-Pacific, at $120-140 per tonne on Friday October 26, up from $115-135 per tonne a month earlier. And while smelters were eager to pick up material at higher TCs, lower exchange prices for refined zinc meant that they had yet to increase their capacity utilization rates. At $2,616.91 per tonne on October 26, three-month zinc futures on the London Metal Exchange were down by 21% since the start of the year. “As in previous years, [the direction in which the market will move] depends on what the Chinese will do. Basically, we expect that the Chinese smelters will increase their idle capacity,” one miner said