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The global lead ore market continues to pose a strong demand in 2018 as world lead consumption continues to climb. Lead is a blue-grey colored metal that has many notable advantages such as being corrosion-resistant, dense, ductile, and malleable. Early uses of lead included building materials, pigments for glazing ceramics, and pipes for transporting water. With the development of technologies and growing demand in both domestic and industrial usages, lead is nowadays one of the most common raw materials for making car batteries, pigments, ammunition, cable sheathing, weights for lifting, weight belts for diving, lead crystal glass, radiation protection and in some solders.
According to a recent report from USGS, the total production of the global lead ore market was about 4.7 million tonnes in 2017, maintaining as the similar output level as 2016. However, the global lead mine production is set to grow from 4.7 million tonnes (Mt) to around 5 Mt by 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate of 2.1%. This can be attributed to the various upcoming lead projects located across Mexico, Russia, and Australia. The biggest driver of demand for lead over the recent years is the global automobile industry — particularly the electronic vehicle industry — as lead is predominantly used in manufacturing lead-acid batteries which are widely manufactured and consumed in automobiles.
The top 10 largest lead ore producing countries in 2017 were China (2.4 million tonnes), Australia (450,000 tonnes), the USA (313,000 tonnes), Peru (300,000 tonnes), Russia (250,000 tonnes), Mexico (230,000 tonnes), India (150,000 tonnes), Sweden (80,000 tonnes), Bolivia (70,000 tonnes), and Turkey (70,000 tonnes). The countries dominated worldwide lead consumption as well.
Over the decades, China has been leading the way in the global lead ore production. The figures from USGS show that China produced total 2.4 million tonnes of lead ore in 2017, representing over 51% of the world’s total production. However, the growth rate in China’s lead production witnessed a slight downward trend in recent years as China’s Ministry of Industry & Information Technology introduced new regulations at the end of 2016 to reduce environmental pollution from secondary lead production process. Under the new regulations, 80% of illegal secondary lead smelters have been shut down during the second half of 2017. As a result, the annual growth rate of lead production in China reduced from over 5% in 2016 to 2.5% in 2017.
Most of the China produced lead are consumed in the domestic market. Lead consumption in China has increased significantly in 2016 due to strong vehicle production growth. For instance, over the first nine months of 2016, China’s vehicle industry output grew by 15.6% y-o-y. Other demand drivers are the country’s electric bicycle and motorcycle sector, which accounts for 29.0% and 5.0% of lead demand, respectively. Today, China’s automotive industry accounts for 75% of the country’s lead demand. As the total vehicle production in China grew 5.2% in 2017 and at an annual average of 5.7% to 2020, the size of the lead market in China are expected to grow further in the coming years.
As the world’s fourth largest lead ore producing country, Peru is also the number one lead exporter in the world. According to recent trading statistics from ITC, Peru exported total US$1.17 billion worth of the lead ores to the global market in 2016, representing more than 21% of the world’s total lead ores exports in that year, making Peru once again the world’s largest lead ores exporter. Some of the top importers of Peru’s lead ores include South Korea, China, Canada, Belgium, Japan and Australia. With the continuous growth of lead demand in the global market, Peru is expected to further increase it’s shares in the global lead ore market. Now it’s the great timing to connect with the top lead ore suppliers in Peru and discover countless of business opportunities in this booming market.
When it comes to the prospect of the global lead ore market, BMI Research estimates that the global primary lead market will shift into deficit by 2019 on the back of persistent supply cuts. The production of lead ore mining is forecast to reduce due to the global slowdown in mining capital expenditure, which will also have a negative impact on refined lead supply in the global market. The industry outlook suggests the lead consumption will exceed production by 10 thousand tonnes (kt) in 2019, following a surplus of 84kt in 2016 and 15kt in 2017, respectively. As a result, the global stocks-to-use ratio will peak in 2017 at 6.7% and edge lower in subsequent years, reaching 5.8% by 2020.
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