Lead market has remained at a standstill since the announcement of lockdown on March 24. Even though India has started easing some restrictions, secondary lead ingot producers in Delhi and Mumbai are yet to resume operations. Battery scrap collectors and sellers also stayed away from the market. The Davis Index for secondary lead ingot settled at Rs139,500/mt ($1,850/mt) ex-works Mumbai producer and Rs140,967/mt, ex-works Delhi producer, flat from the prior Wednesday.
Market players are finding it difficult to recommence operations in Mumbai, the worst affected city in the country. Scrap yards in Delhi too refrained from releasing prices for last 7 weeks, informed secondary lead ingot manufacturers. In South India, major secondary lead ingot producers have begun production, but trades still remain hit. In some regions barring Mumbai and Delhi, one-on-one trades were heard.
Auto manufacturing units and dealerships have restarted activities, stirring positive sentiment in the lead market. Battery production is likely to pick up soon. Shops have gradually opened and battery makers hope to retail their prior inventories. Smelters now await demand from battery makers. The Davis Index for lead batteries (drained) settled flat at Rs83,725/mt ex-works Mumbai consumer and Rs84,133/mt ex-works Delhi consumer on Wednesday.
Seasonally, demand for lead batteries picks up from generator and UPS manufacturers ahead of monsoons. Manufacturers stock up inventories to meet their production requirement during the rainy season. The COVID-19 outbreak, however, has changed the market scenario this year. Market participants though hope for demand to rise as soon as markets re-open once the lockdown is lifted. Mainly since demand and sales in the third and fourth quarter of the year (Oct-March) usually improve.
Thin trades of imported lead scrap are taking place suggesting improved demand post the lockdown. In domestic markets, scrap collection has taken a hit amid lockdown and the resulting unavailability of enough transportation.
Primary lead producer in India has resumed mining operations at reduced capacity. On May 11, lead price was revised after a wide gap to Rs149,500/mt from around Rs150,100/mt on March 19. The three-month official LME lead contract settled at $1,638/mt on Tuesday from $1,660/mt on March 19, down by $22/mt since.
($1 = Rs75.36)