Global lead short-term outlook February 2023
There's been a spate of smelter news. Portovesme has closed, and Plovdiv's accident leaves it idle. Meanwhile, Stolberg's acquisition ends independent primary lead smelting given that all primary lead smelters are now effectively integrated with zinc smelters that can supply a feed of leach residues. Nevertheless, these developments are unlikely to impact the global metal balance because there is sufficient smelting capacity to process the steadily rising level of raw materials. This is reflected in continued concentrate market tightness, which is leading to lower annual contract TCs in 2023. Refined production will therefore only just keep pace with consumption, which is due to grow by 2.3%. Despite reasonably firm fundamentals, economic sentiment has weakened slightly and lead prices have not been immune to some downward pressure on the LME.