Global Mine Production of Lead to Get Back on Growth Trajectory This Year25 Feb 2019 • by Natalie Aster
LONDON – Today, the bulk share of the overall volume of lead used worldwide in different commercial applications (e.g. batteries, rolled and extruded products, pigments, ammunition, construction materials, alloys, cable sheathing, and some others) is obtained from recycling. This is partially attributed to the surging “go-green” trend and increasing emphasis on the recycling of waste products to preserve the environment. Besides, due to the high recyclability level of lead, the recycling of this metal is economically viable and self-sustainable.
Naturally occurring in the form of isotopes, lead is rather abundant in the Earth’s crust. Worldwide, the resources of lead are estimated at above 2 billion metric tons, whilst the economically feasible to extract reserves stand at some 88 million metric tons. The vastest deposits are found in Australia (appr. 39.8% of the global reserves), China (19.3%), Russia (7.3%), Peru (6.8%), and Mexico (6.4%).
During 2014-2016, the volume of the global mine production of lead has been declining. As of 2016, it totaled slightly over 4.78 million metric tons. In the year 2017, the world’s lead mine production bounced back and registered positive growth – it went over 4.87 million metric tons. However, the year 2018 witnessed a drop of appr. 0.9% in the global mine production of lead, which went down to some 4.7 million metric tons. This was majorly attributed to the rising number of environmental inspections in some lead mining countries, which resulted in the number of operating lead mines closures.
World’s mine production of lead during 2011-2018 (in million metric tons)
China is the world’s largest lead mining country in the global arena by far outpacing other lead mine producers. As of 2017, the country’s mine production of lead was estimated at around 2.4 million metric tons – equivalent to almost half of the global output volume. The major lead mining areas in China include Kiring, Hunan, and Liaoning region. Other countries in the top 5 lead mining producers are Australia, the US, Peru, and Russia. The combined share of the 5 leading lead mine producing countries is estimated at about 76% of the world’s total mine production volume.
Top 5 mine producers of lead, 2016-2017 (in thousand metric tons)
Lead Mine Production Outlook
This year, the world’s mine production of lead is anticipated to rebound and add nearly 2.1% to climb to the volume of 4.8 million metric tons. Meantime, the global demand for lead is projected to increase by 0.7% in 2019. Looking forward, the world’s lead mine production is predicted to keep to an upward trend registering a CAGR of appr. 2.9% through 2022; by late 2022, it is poised to come to 5.1 million metric tons.
China is likely to be the major contributor to the lead production upturn – the country’s output volume of lead is likely to increase marginally by 1.25% during 2019-2022, spurred majorly by the scheduled projects including Fuwan Silver Project in Guangdong, Mengya Mine in Tibet, and the Jiama Phase II Expansion project. Notable mine production growth is also projected in such lead mining countries as Australia, India, Canada, and Kazakhstan. In the European region, an increase in Spain and Sweden is slated to outbalance the decline in Poland. Other important contributors to the global lead production growth comprise some South American countries, namely Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil.
Presently, the production of batteries commands a chunk of about 80% of the world’s total lead consumption volume. Increasing investments in the development of smart grid technologies and the mounting demand for lead-acid batteries from the automotive and electric bikes industries as well as from the renewable energy sector and are expected to act as important growth drivers of the global lead production.
Besides, the widespread adoption of lead in the rapidly-evolving construction industry (as architectural material for gutters, gutter joints, roofing materials, and roof parapets) is also expected to encourage growth of the global lead production.
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