LEAD “The Element of Earth’s crust”

Lead is a heavy, malleable, bluish grey metal. It is one of the metals most resistant to common corrosion problems. Lead has some important properties, in particular malleability (i.e. it can be hammered into shape), ease of production, ease of melting and joining, and good corrosion resistance.


There are many different uses of Lead. It may be used as a pure metal, alloyed with other metals, or as chemical compounds. The main end-uses for lead are as Batteries (80%) mainly cars, also industrial uses, Sheet (6%)- roofing, Lead compounds – stabilisers for plastics, Pigments – manufacturing of paints, Lead alloys – specialist alloys, Cable sheathing – power cables, Miscellaneous – includes radiation shielding, balancing weights.


The world’s top refined lead producing countries in 2009 were as follows:

1. China – 3.708 million tonnes

2. United States – 1.240 million tonnes

3. Germany – 388,000 tonnes

4. United Kingdom – 312,000 tonnes

5. South Korea – 290,000 tonnes

World production of refined lead totalled 8.815 million tonnes in 2009.


Capacity Production Figures in tonnes (1000s)


Demand Global lead demand this year is estimated at about 8.7 million tonnes, compared with 8.2 million tonnes in 2009. About 80 percent is used by battery producers. Demand for lead is less cyclical than that for most other base metals as about 40 to 50 percent is for replacement batteries, which makes it very resilient.


The top five lead consuming nations in 2009 were as follows:


China – 3.860 million tonnes, United States – 1.426 million tonnes, South Korea – 320,000 tonnes, Germany – 314,000 tonnes, Spain – 233,000 tonnes. In India about 75 per cent of total demand is from the domestic battery industries.


Tug Of War………..stocks V/s Price


Benchmark lead on the London Metal Exchange at around $2,221 a tonne is up more than 160 percent since hitting $850 a tonne in December 2008 when markets started to fear economic recession could turn into a 1930s style depression.


Since the beginning of the year 2009, lead prices as well as lead stocks are both increasing. The reason could be anything from large banks which are manipulating the market to gain profit on a short term to a big country which want to lower their USD currency reserves by stepping into metals.


In the year 2010, the graph of the lead price compared with the world stock of lead seems to look quite healthy. Lead stocks are getting up and as a reaction the lead price is going down. The basics of supply and demand seem to work.


News from Industry


·Xstrata’s sizeable Brunswick mine in eastern Canada is due to become depleted in 2011. It produced around 66,500 tonnes of lead in concentrate last year.


·Ivernia expects to produce about 60,000 tonnes of contained lead in concentrates in 2010 and expects that to ramp up to 85,000 tonnes a year from 2011 onwards.




Lead makes up only about 0.0013% of the earth’s crust.


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