Lead Jumps Again as Port Pirie Smelter Goes Down Again

It’s turning out to be a torrid summer for the usually sedate lead market. The London Metal Exchange (LME) lead market was roiled in early June by news of an unplanned outage at the Port Pirie lead smelter in Australia, Reuters reported. It’s just been upended again by a second shutdown of the plant, which is operated by Nyrstar, the Belgian company that had to be rescued from potential insolvency by trade house Trafigura. The second outage has seen LME time-spreads tighten again and the outright three-month price hit a two-week high of $2,101.50 per tonne on Monday. The market impact has been milder this time around, reflecting a rebuild in LME inventory and accumulating evidence of weakening demand from the all-important automotive sector. But keep an eye on the relative-value trade with sister metal zinc. Read more