When market commentators discuss the outlook for the lead market and prices, the focus is often on mine production. This has been especially true over the past year or so in the wake of mine closures due to reserve depletion, tightening environmental standards in China, and Glencore’s cuts. What is sometimes overlooked is the fact that secondary lead production is, today, far more important than primary metal in satisfying market demand for lead that is principally for lead–acid batteries. Whereas lead recycling has exhibited steady trend in growth, mine and primary production outside China is more or less at the same volume today as it was a decade ago. Even inside China, there has been a marked slowdown in the most recent years in growth of both mine and primary refined lead production. This is not because lead consumption has stopped growing. Rather, it is the fact that a steady input of primary lead is now meeting new demand for lead–acid batteries as conventional motor fleets continue to expand, while battery recycling largely satisfies lead use in the manufacture of replacement batteries. This presentation will detail recent market developments in secondary lead production on a geographical basis and will also discuss some of the key issues that have preoccupied the lead recycling industry in recent years. It will examine the case for some easing of the pressure on battery scrap supplies in certain mature markets and how the secondary lead industry in China is expanding and adapting to tighter environmental regulation.
CHR Metals Limited
Huw Roberts is an economist and co-founder with Claire Hassall of CHR Metals Limited. The company has an international reputation for providing in-depth analysis of the global zinc and lead industries, offering particular insight into developments in China. It also publishes detailed forecasts of global industrial production in its regular monthly report, Global IP Watch. Huw’s career in the metals industry includes working for an LME broker, a number of years with a mining company, and senior positions in metals industry consultancy.