August 1, 2019: Lead prices soared in June and July by around $250/t from $1,790/t on the back of an unplanned production outage at Nyrstar’s primary lead refinery at Port Pirie in south Australia.
“The Port Pirie outage has been the key driver to propel the lead price so much higher in July — it was over $2,100/t at one point— as the market frets about refined lead availability, particularly in south-east Asia, where so much of Pirie’s output goes,” said Farid Ahmed, lead analyst at Wood McKenzie.
Certainly the firm’s prediction of a $22 million-$28 million hit to gross earnings and 30kt of lost production will not help Nyrstar, which has recently been restructured.
On July 31 Trafigura Group formally became the majority owner of the Nyrstar in a deal that has taken months to complete.
This follows the implementation of the scheme of arrangement: reinstatement of financing facilities with Nyrstar’s financial creditors; completion of a new money facility; issuance of the bond instruments detailed below; and agreement being reached with the State of South Australia on the key terms of the restructure of the Port Pirie perpetual securities, according to a Trafigura statement.
Daniel Vanin was appointed chief executive officer of the operating business of Nyrstar following the announcement. He has 40 years’ experience and international mine and smelting development experience.
Separately, the relationship between primary lead pricing and secondary lead markets, and the blurring of quality boundaries between the two, will be one of the themes of 6ISLC — the sixth international secondary lead conference — that is being held in Bali in early September.
“We’ve got a superb technical line-up for these meetings,” says Mark Stevenson, one of the organizers of the conference. “We will bring together all aspects of secondary lead smelting; discussing plant design, smelting regimes, refractories, burner design, slag formation and structures, and pollution and environmental control, among other presentations.
“It is a further aim of the conference to open up for discussion all aspects of plant operations and control as to give not only operators but people interested in secondary smelting a better understanding of the processes involved in the industry.”