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Metals shipments return to normal
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Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group Co, China's largest smelter of copper, resumed deliveries to customers and the country's biggest zinc smelter restarted production after the worst snowstorms in 50 years eased.


Tongling began daily shipments just before the Lunar New Year holiday last week, said He Yan, the company's securities representative, from Anhui Province. Production at Zhuzhou Smelter Group Co is back to normal, parent Hunan Nonferrous Metals Corp said yesterday in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.


China is restoring power after heavy snow and ice damaged grids, delayed deliveries of coal to power plants, and stalled transport. The storms forced production cuts and led to higher prices on the London Metal Exchange, According to Bloomberg News.


Anhui Jingcheng Copper Share Co, China's second-largest copper-sheet producer, also resumed output just before the holiday, said board secretary Wang Gang. About two days' output was lost because of the storms, he said.


The China Meteorological Administration has forecast rain and snow for parts of south and southwest China over the next nine days.


China may need to boost imports because of the lost output at plants, Merrill Lynch & Co said in a report dated February 11.


The country may almost triple aluminum imports, raise copper purchases by 16 percent and zinc by 27 percent, assuming the snowstorms and energy shortages cut output of the three metals by five percent each and demand remained intact, analysts led by Sydney-based Vicky Binns said.


"We expect China's weather-related energy crisis to persist until March and April, when the northern winter ends," said the analysts. "Even when this event ends, China still needs to boost output to offset shortages created by ongoing drought."


About 15 percent of China's energy supply comes from hydropower, mainly located in the southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan, they said.


Tongling declined 0.5 percent to close at 21.79 yuan (US$3.03) in Shenzhen yesterday. Anhui Jingcheng fell 1.3 percent to 24.86 yuan in Shenzhen.


(Shanghai Daily February 14, 2008)


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