China’s spreading lockdowns keeping metals supply chains snarled

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China’s virus lockdowns are spreading to other parts of the country, keeping metals supply chains snarled and demand subdued even as the situation in Shanghai seems to be improving.

There are signs that some of the transport bottlenecks and factory closures in and around Shanghai are easing, but anti-virus measures now appear to be spreading to other parts of Asia’s largest economy. Tighter controls have been imposed in the cities of Suzhou and Zhengzhou, the capital of the central Henan province. China has so far decided to stick with its Covid Zero policy, despite growing evidence that it’s threatening economic growth.  

A copper fabricator in Henan that produces pipes and parts used in household appliances and medical devices said its sales were down 20% to 30% in tonnage terms in the first half of April from a year earlier. Many customers are at a standstill due to restrictions, said an official at the company, who asked not to be identified because of internal rules.

In the south-west of China, Yunnan Tin Co., the country’s largest producer of the metal, said it had halted production at its mining unit to comply with local government virus restrictions. The disruption was expected to be short term, the company said in an exchange filing.

The official at the fabricator in Henan said its customers around China were facing problems, with some air-conditioner producers unable to operate due to lack of component deliveries. 

Shanghai released plans for a return to workplaces in the city over the weekend, without providing a timetable. Some copper rod producers in neighboring provinces secured truck passes to access the metal from warehouses, researcher Shanghai Metals Market said on Friday. That had enabled two plants to re-open, meaning 10 of 16 remain at least partially closed, it said. 

Metals prices in China were mixed after the central bank refrained from cutting its main policy rate on Friday and gross domestic product and industrial production data beat estimates on Monday. The first-quarter growth figures don’t capture the full extent of the lockdowns, which only intensified toward the end of March. 

Copper closed down 0.3% on the Shanghai Futures Exchange. Aluminum slipped 0.1%, while zinc rose 0.3% to the highest since 2007 and nickel climbed 1.2%.


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