Production at lead and zinc mines fell in the first six months of 2020, mostly due to mine closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the latest International Lead and Zinc Study Group (ILZSG) data, global lead production from mines fell by 5.5pc to 2.16mn mt in the first half of the year, compared with 2.28mn mt in H1 2019, after mines in India, Bolivia, Canada, Kazakhstan, South Africa, and Peru reduced their output owing to pandemic related closures.
Zinc production also fell by 7.5pc to 5.82mn mt from 6.29mn mt during the same period due to declining outputs from Bolivian, Chinese, Mexican, Namibian, Peruvian and US mines.
Lead consumption falls
ILZSG data reported that despite the fall in output, the supply of refined lead exceeded demand by 79,000mt in H1 2020 though inventories declined by 20,000mt during the same period.
Moreover, refined metal production decreased by 4.3pc to 5.56mn mt in H1 2020 from 5.81mn mt during January-June 2019. ILZSG attributed the decline to a reduction in production in India, China, Europe, and the US. Metal production was also affected by the late 2019 closure of Glencore’s 70,000mt smelter shutdown in New Brunswick, Canada.
Global metal consumption of lead declined 5.9pc falling to 5.48mn mt in the first six months of the year from 5.83mn mt in H1 2019. Lower usage of the metal in Europe, China, India, Brazil, the US, and Japan was cited as the key factor in consumption drops by ILZSG. Imports of refined lead plummeted to 18,000mt worldwide in the first six months of the year from 86,000mt during the same period last year.
Zinc metal production rises
Refined zinc supply, as well as inventories, rose in H1 2020, with the global market for refined zinc in surplus by 205,000mt while refined zinc stocks rose by 148,000mt.
Even though mine production fell, refined zinc production increased slightly by 0.7pc to 6.63mn mt in H1 2020 from 6.58mn mt in H1 2019. ILZSG cited higher metal production in China, which offset decreases in Namibia, India, Japan, Mexico, and Peru during the period. However, declines in India, Europe, South Korea, and the US resulted in a 3.7pc decline in global consumption of refined zinc, the data indicated. Zinc imports also decreased by 38pc to 201,000mn mt in H1 2020 compared with the same period last year.