The International Lead and Zinc Study Group (ILZSG) released preliminary 2012 data for world lead and zinc supply and demand. The global supply of refined lead metal exceeded demand by 64,000 metric tons (mt). Inventories reported by the London Metal Exchange (LME), Shanghai Future Exchange (SHFE) and producers and consumers increased by 23,000 mt totaling 628,000 mt at the year end.

Global lead mine production increased by 11.5% compared to 2011. The increase was principally due to a reported 20.4% rise in China. Rises in output of refined lead metal in India, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States were largely balanced by reductions in other regions resulting in a limited increase of 0.2%.

World usage increased by 1.3%. This was primarily a consequence of higher demand in India, Japan, Mexico and the United States. Apparent demand in China was unchanged from 2011. China’s imports of lead contained in lead concentrates rose by 26.3% to reach a record of just over 1 million mt.

Prices on the LME averaged $2,061/mt during 2012, 14% lower than during 2011. The highest price, $2,340/mt, was recorded on December 31, 2012, and the lowest price, $1,744/mt, occurred on June 27.

Global output of refined zinc metal exceeded usage by 265,000 mt, the sixth successive year that the market has been in surplus. Inventories increased by 426,000 mt to total 2,195,000 mt.

An increase in global zinc mine output of 5.1% compared to 2011 was mainly due to a reported 14.4% increase in China.

In contrast to mine production, global refined zinc metal output decreased by 3.5%. This was primarily influenced by falls in output in Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, India and South Africa.

A reduction in global demand for refined zinc metal of 2.8% was principally a consequence of falls in usage in Europe and China of 6.8% and 3.2% respectively. Demand also decreased in Japan and the United States. The most significant increases were recorded in India, the Republic of Korea and Turkey. Chinese imports of zinc contained in zinc concentrates declined by 34% to 821,000 kt. However, net imports of refined zinc metal increased by 68.5% to 509,000 kt.

Prices on the LME averaged $1,946/mt during 2012, 11.1% during 2011. The highest price, $2,179/mt, was recorded on January 26, 2012, and the lowest price, $1,760/mt, occurred on June 27.

Further details about the International Lead and Zinc Study Group together with a full list of publications are available at www.ilzsg.org.

Lead Statistics (000 metric tons)

Mine production 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 % Change
World Total 3,805 3,833 4,327 4,645 5,178 11.5%
China 1,403 1,604 1,981 2,358 2,838 20.4%
Australia 612 529 661 531 527 -0.8%
Europe 320 325 327 360 374 3.9%
USA 410 406 372 342 340 -0.5%
Metal Production 9,196 9,204 9,816 10,594 10,617 .2%
Refined Usage 9,188 9,212 9,795 10,418 10,553 1.3%
Stocks 306 389 446 605 628

Zinc Statistics (000 metric tons)

World Total 118,882 11,608 12,486 12,948 13,604 5.1%
China 3,343 3,324 3,842 4,308 4,930 14.4%
Australia 1,466 1,260 1,458 1,472 1,492 1.4%
Peru 1,603 1,509 1,470 1,256 1,281 2.0%
Europe 1,016 1,010 1,008 1,034 1,055 2.1%
Metal Production 11,772 11,282 12,885 13,120 12,660 -3.5%
Refined Usage 11,574 10,920 12,637 12,754 12,395 -2.8%

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