China zinc smelters to raise output by 5.7% in 2021 after record year -Antaike
* China zinc smelters produced 5.297 mln T in 2020 -Antaike survey
* Current plans point to almost 300,000 T output increase in 2021
* Refined lead output 4.64 mln T in 2020, to grow 2.4% this year
Jan 12 (Reuters) - China's zinc smelters will raise production by almost 300,000 tonnes, or 5.7%, in 2021 after producing a record amount of metal last year despite the pandemic, while refined lead output will also grow, research house Antaike said on Tuesday.
Production in top metals consumer China has rebounded strongly after an initial collapse in early 2020, when the coronavirus hampered logistics and hit demand. Its subsequent spread around the world then affected China's raw material supply. The 49 zinc smelters surveyed by Antaike, the research arm of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, produced a record 5.297 million tonnes of zinc and zinc alloy in 2020, up by 158,000 tonnes, or 3.1%, year on year.
The increase was almost 200,000 tonnes less than expected at the start of 2020, a year in which zinc treatment charges in China, as assessed by Asian Metal , plunged 72% amid disruption to mine supply, hurting smelter margins.
With supply constraints easing, current plans show China's refined zinc production will rise by nearly 300,000 tonnes this year, Antaike said. December output in Antaike's survey was 481,000 tonnes, up 1.3% year on year but down 4.9% on a daily basis from November. Antaike sees January output holding steady at around 480,000 tonnes before sinking below 470,000 tonnes in February as smelters plan maintenance over the Lunar New Year holiday. Meanwhile, refined lead production fell 0.8% to 4.644 million tonnes last year, according to a separate Antaike survey, with primary lead output nudging up 0.7% and recycled lead output slipping 2.4%.
In 2021, the 71 companies surveyed plan to produce 112,000 tonnes, or 2.4% more refined lead as mine supply increases, Antaike said.
December refined lead output in the Antaike survey was up 2.9% year on year and up 3,000 tones from the previous month at 421,000 tonnes. Monthly output is seen slipping to 403,000 tonnes in January and to under 350,000 tonnes in February.
(Reporting by Tom Daly; editing by David Evans)