January 14, 2021: A new surge of coronavirus cases in the Chinese province of Hebei is having an impact on lead battery makers in the region, who stopped production between January 6-9 according to news outlets such as the Shanghai Metals Market and Reuters.
The outbreak, in the provincial capital city of Shijiazhuang, has resulted in the lockdown of 11 million people in a ‘state of wartime’ imposed on January 5.
Since January 2, the province has reported 223 locally transmitted confirmed Covid-19 cases and 161 asymptomatic carriers.
“It is understood that logistics and transport services have been seriously disrupted by the lockdown in Shijiazhuang,” says the SMM. “Some companies in the metals industry have suspended production more than one month ahead of the Chinese New Year, closing their doors for ‘early holiday’.” The Spring Festival does not begin until February 12 this year.
“It is worth noting that Shijiazhuang borders Baoding and Xingtai,” says the SMM. “Baoding is a concentrated area of lead-acid battery makers and secondary lead smelters.”
Secondary lead smelters in Inner Mongolia and Hebei are reported to have suspended production for a week, and although not all secondary lead smelters have closed yet, logistics restrictions are bound to affect battery scrap procurements. As a result, some are likely to close in advance of the traditional annual holiday.
The SMM also reported that inventories of lead ingots across China had fallen by 2,000 tonnes as of January 11 because of transport restrictions and falling lead prices, which were deterring smelters from selling.