During its April meeting in Lisbon, the International Lead and Zinc Study Group (ILZSG) reviewed the current outlook for trends in world supply and demand for lead. The group expects that global demand for refined lead metal will increase by 4.4% in 2014 to 11.73 million metric tons (mt). This will be driven mainly by growth in China where usage is forecast to increase by 7.4%. In 2013, China accounted for 45.2% of total global lead usage. After increasing by 14.1% in 2013, demand in the U.S. is forecast to rise by a modest 0.6%. In Europe, a rise of 2.2% is anticipated, driven mainly by a forecast recovery in Italian demand.
Following a rise of 7.5% in 2013, global lead mine production is expected to increase by a further 5.2% to 5.66 million mt in 2014, primarily as a consequence of higher output in Australia and China. Chinese net imports of lead contained in lead concentrates are expected to exceed 750,000 mt for the seventh year in a row.
In 2014, world production of refined lead metal is forecast to rise by 4.3% to 11.68 million mt. Output in the Republic of Korea, currently the world’s third largest producer of lead metal behind China and the United States, is expected to rise by 5.7% to reach 500,000 mt. Elsewhere in Asia, increases are forecast in China, India and Kazakhstan. In the U.S., the closure of Doe Run’s primary operation at Herculaneum in December will be partially offset by a rise in secondary output, however, overall production is expected to decline by 5.3%. A predicted increase in Europe of 4.4% is mainly a consequence of forecast rises in production in Belgium, France and Italy. The ILZSG expects that the world market for refined lead metal will remain in modest deficit in 2014 with the extent of the shortage estimated at 49,000 mt.
In related news, the International Lead Association (ILA) published its Annual Review 2013. In his message, ILA Chairman Aaron Miller, vice president and COO for the Doe Run Co., said the lead industry was at a critical juncture and added, “We must take a more proactive approach in communicating effectively with various stakeholders including regulators, legislators and nongovernment organizations (NGOs), to bring a better understanding about the value of lead, its role in modern society and its responsible use.”
The review also reflects some of the key themes in ILA’s new strategic plan. In his report, ILA Managing Director Dr. Andy Bush, said that fundamental to the new strategy was the ILA’s vision for a sustainable lead industry that is recognized for the positive contribution it makes to society.”
The ILA represents the producers of about 3 million mt of lead. The Lead REACH Consortium is a stand-alone project of ILA-Europe and its activities are funded by 100 member companies.
ILA also supports the Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium, which manages the research, development, and promotion of lead-based batteries for markets such as hybrid electric vehicles, start-stop automotive systems and grid-scale energy storage applications. (www.ila-lead.org)