METALS-Expectations of tighter supply keep lead near 6-month high

* LME/ShFE arb: http://tmsnrt.rs/2oQ5nm20

* Lead cancelled warrants on LME above 40 percent

* Month-long maintenance in Sichuan (Recasts, adds comment, changes dateline from Melbourne)

LONDON, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Lead prices rose on Thursday towards the 6-month highs hit earlier this week as investors bought on expectations of tighter supplies due to mine closures that have created shortages of concentrate for smelters.

Benchmark lead was up 0.9 percent at $2,372 a tonne at 1029 GMT. On Wednesday, prices of the battery metal touched $2,422 a tonne, its highest since Feb. 14.

Lead is mined alongside zinc, which has seen large capacity cuts over the last couple of years.

"The concentrate market has tightened significantly...It is starting to constrain primary smelter production," said Cru's lead analyst Neil Hawkes. "Demand is reasonably good...but what happens with demand in September, October and November will be much more of a test of where we are in the tightening story."

LEAD MARKET: Global demand and supply this year are estimated at around 12 million tonnes. Analysts expect a deficit below 50,000 tonnes this year and next.

SUPPLY: More than half of global lead supplies come from secondary or recycled metal, which analysts say is unable to offset losses from primary or mine supply.

CHINA IMPORTS: The tightness is illustrated in top consumer China's imports of lead and concentrate. Its imports of refined lead in the six months to end-June at 52,527 tonnes compare with 1,075 tonnes for all of last year.

SICHUAN: China research firm Antaike said the start of environmental inspections in Sichuan province had prompted 60 percent of local lead-zinc mines to shut down for month-long maintenance. That could mean lower supplies of zinc and lead in August and September.

FALLING STOCKS: Inventories of lead in LME warehouses at nearly 153,000 tonnes are down 17 percent since the middle of May. Traders are also watching cancelled warrants -- material earmarked for delivery and so not available to the market -- at more than 40 percent.

ALUMINIUM SUPPLIES: Worries about supplies from top producer China have been reinforced by Shandong province, which this week ordered the closure of 3.21 million tonnes of aluminium capacity.

ENVIRONMENT: The shutdowns come as China's Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said it was embarking on its fourth round of environmental inspections across eight provinces and regions, including Shandong.

ALUMINIUM PRICES: Aluminium was up 0.6 percent at $2,039 a tonne. On Wednesday, it touched $2,043, its highest since November 2014, a gain of around 20 percent this year.

DOLLAR: Traders said industrial metals were capped by a firmer U.S. currency, which when it rises makes dollar-denominated commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies, potentially subduing demand.

PRICES: Copper rose 0.1 percent to 6,459 a tonne, zinc rose 0.4 percent to $2,943, tin gained 0.7 percent to $20,345 and nickel added 0.7 percent to $10,830.

(Editing by Adrian Croft)