Global lead and zinc consumption increased by 10pc and 10.5pc to 6.03mn mt and 6.94mn mt, respectively, in H1 2021, against the same period last year, according to the International Lead and Zinc Study Group (ILZSG).
Lead production rises
Lead mining output increased by 6.1pc to 2.2mn mt from January-June against 2.1mn mt in H1 2020, while refined lead metal production rose by 8.3pc to 6.11mn mt from 5.63mn mt in the same timeframe. The latter was attributed to a growth in output in India, Belgium, South Korea, China, and Mexico, which offset a decline in Kazakhstan.
Mine production was led by increases in Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, and India, balancing the output declines in Poland and Kazakhstan, ILZSG reported.
In the US, refined lead metal production decreased slightly in the first half of the year. However, the full impact of South Carolina’s Clarios’ 100,000mt per year lead refinery closure is expected to be felt in H2 2021. Clarios had shut down its secondary lead refinery in March this year following a change in business strategy to focus on its advanced battery technology segment.
Consumption of lead has increased in the US along with China, India, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, and Mexico. In Europe, ILZSG noted, lead usage grew at a slightly slower pace of 6.7pc led by an increase in demand and consumption in Spain, Greece, the Czech Republic, Poland, and France.
Still, production exceeded demand for lead with ILZSG noting a 71,000mt surplus in H1 2021 compared to the same period last year.
China leads world zinc production
In H1 2021, zinc production from mines grew by 12.1pc to 6.29mn mt from 5.61mn mt in January-June 2020. During the same period, refined zinc output increased by 4.7pc to 6.97mn mt from 6.66mn mt.
China influenced the growth in zinc ore and zinc metal production in the first half of the year, ILZSG noted, though the country’s imports of zinc concentrate dropped by 8pc to 895,000mt in H1 2021 against the same year-ago timeframe. Globally though, net imports of refined zinc increased by 32pc to 266,000mt compared to H1 2020.
Other countries where zinc ore production increased included Eritrea, Bolivia, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, Turkey, the US, and India. Zinc mine production in Europe remained flat but declined in Kazakhstan, Namibia, and Canada in H1 2021 from H1 2020.
Canada’s zinc metal production also declined during the period under review along with Mexico’s. Production of refined zinc was flat in the US and grew in Japan, Peru, and India.
Like lead, however, zinc production exceeded demand by 36,000mt in H1 2021 compared to the first half of 2020.