China's State Reserves Bureau (SRB) has called a meeting in Beijing on Wednesday to buy refined zinc from smelters, its second purchase in less than 2 months, smelter sources said on Tuesday.

The SRB is going to buy zinc on Wednesday, a sales manager at a large zinc smelter told Reuters.

The SRB is expected to buy about 100,000 tonnes of refined zinc at the Wednesday meeting, the smelter sources said.

Chinese zinc prices have stayed firm after the state body bought 59,000 tonnes of refined zinc from smelters in January as part of Beijing's plan to support local smelters due to weak demand.

Strong Chinese prices have encouraged merchants to import spot refined zinc into the world's top producer of the metal. Imports surged 306 percent from a year earlier and 278 percent from December to 12,498 tonnes in January.

Smelters are willing to sell more to the SRB this time as imports are rising and prices may fall soon, a manager at another large zinc smelter said.

He added the SRB had planned to buy 100,000 tonnes in the January meeting but smelters had refused to sell more because of expectations of higher prices.

Spot zinc was largely unmoved at Monday's level of 10,350 yuan per tonne in the morning in Shanghai. The March contract SZNH9 on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was down 50 yuan per tonne at 10,300 yuan in morning trade. (Editing by Michael Urquhart)

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