China’s Yunnan Tin Co. said it would idle its lead smelter because lower prices for the metal have made it unprofitable.
The plant, with 100,000 metric tons of annual capacity, will stop operating this month, according to a statement from the company, which is based in Kunming, Yunnan province. Output this year from the smelter will drop to about 60,000 tons from a previous estimate of 90,000 tons, Board Secretary Pan Wenhao said today by phone.
Lead, which fell to an eight-month low in May, declined 5 percent on the London Metal Exchange this year and traded at $2,212.75 a ton at 4:33 p.m. Shanghai time. Silver, a by-product from lead smelting, lost 24 percent this year.
All other plants run by the company, the world’s largest tin producer, will continue operating normally, said Pan. He declined to say when the lead smelter may restart.
“Many lead smelters had a very hard time in the past three months,” said Jiang Ning, an analyst at SMM Information and Technology Co. Lead output in China this year may be lower than earlier estimated, Jiang said.
Baiyin Nonferrous Metals Co., China’s sixth-largest zinc smelter, said earlier this week it would halt 200,000 tons of capacity, citing weak metals prices.
The halt at Yunnan Tin’s lead smelter will help reduce losses by about 42 million yuan ($6.9 million) this year, the company said.