The agreements, which are said to have been concluded last week, set the annual TC for 2021 supply at $159 per tonne with zero price participation or active scales, sources with knowledge of the matter told Fastmarkets, declining to be named because the contracts are confidential.
The TCs are 46.96% lower than 2020 contractual levels, which were locked at 12-year highs of $299.75 per tonne, also with zero scales.
"It's at the lower end of our expectations," Fastmarkets analyst James Moore said. "The benchmark suggests conditions for concentrate supplies are likely to remain relatively tight in the year ahead as pandemic-related disruptions continue to delay bringing new projects online."
Fastmarkets assessed the spot zinc concentrate TC, cif China at $60-74 per tonne on March 26, down from the previous assessment of $65-75 per tonne on March 12 and substantially lower than levels close $300 per tonne when the 2020 benchmark was signed.
The sharp drop in spot market levels reflects a continuing disconnect between resurgent demand for metals globally and continuing difficulties in maintaining supply from key production hubs that continue to be badly affected by the pandemic.
Peru and Bolivia, two of the world's biggest exporters of mined zinc, have resumed local and national lockdowns on and off for the past year to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Unlike copper mines, which are predominantly open pit, zinc, lead and silver mines are mostly underground, with human proximity a danger to miners and a challenge for companies extracting minerals during the pandemic.
Teck Resources has agreed annual supply contracts to sell zinc concentrate from its Red Dog mine for 2021, locking treatment charges (TCs) with smelter customers Korea Zinc and Glencore at almost half the levels agreed for 2020.