Glencore's '13 lead output at Portovesme seen at 60,000t-sources

Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:38pm GMT

Quotes

   

* First lead to hit the market end-April

* Restart comes amid global lead shutdowns, outages

* Zinc output at plant to hit 140,00 tonnes in 2013

By Clara Denina and Maytaal Angel

LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - Commodity trader Glencore is expected to produce about 60,000 tonnes of lead this year at its reopened smelter in Portovesme, on the Italian island of Sardinia, industry sources said.

The smelter, which reopened in mid-February after a four-year shutdown, has a production capacity of 80,000 tonnes per year.

Glencore, the world's largest listed diversified commodities trader, has invested 25 million euros ($32.29 million) on upgrading the plant, according to industry sources. Globally, about 9.4 million tonnes of lead are consumed a year.

"The lead material will be taken from the primary smelter in Portovesme to the San Gavino refinery, where copper, silver and gold will also be refined," a source familiar with the matter said.

"The first lead should hit the market at the end of April."

The restart at Portovesme comes amid a bankruptcy at Bulgaria's 20,000 tonne a year OTZK smelter last year, a shutdown at Nyrstar's Port Pirie smelter in Australia that pushed output down by 37,000 tonnes, and a decline in exports from Morocco of some 31,350 tonnes.

The only primary lead smelter in the United States, Doe Run Co's Herculaneum, will shut at the end of this year. The smelter produced about 130,000 short tons of lead a year.

"It's very fortuitous timing that Portovesme has come back when smelters across the water are producing less," said CRU analyst Neil Hawkes.

Aside from lead, Glencore is expected to raise zinc production in Portovesme to 140,00 tonnes from 110,00 tonnes last year, having invested 75 million euros ($97 million) to upgrade its electrolytic plant there, sources said.

They added that the nearby San Gavino lead refinery is also expected to produce 3,000 tonnes of copper, 300 tonnes of silver and one tonne of gold per year.

The Portovesme smelter and San Gavino refinery employ about 700 people.