JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Following a decline in overall lead production worldwide in 2016, a slight rise in prices will drive a short-lived acceleration in global lead mine production growth in 2017.
Subdued prices and a weak project pipeline in several major lead-producing countries will bring this rapid rate of growth to a halt from 2018 to 2021, global research firm BMI said on Friday.
This will bring the overall growth forecast for the five-year period to a slow yearly average pace of 1.1%
“While this is slightly faster than the 0.8% yearly average growth witnessed from 2012 to 2016, the latter figure was skewed by a severe production slowdown of -11.3% in 2014,” BMI added.
Global output will edge up from 4.9-million tonnes in 2017 to five-million tonnes by 2021.
During the forecast period, Australia and Peru will be the “relative growth bright spots”, supported by stronger project pipelines across minerals where lead is often mined as a by-product.
China and Australia, at a respective 49.6% and 10.1%, will continue to account for the vast majority of global output in 2017.
China's lead production growth is forecast to stagnate at an average of 0.2% during the period under review, a significant slowdown on the 1.3% average growth rate from 2012 to 2016.
Regardless, China is expected to maintain its position as the dominant lead producer, with output forecast to reach 2.42-million tonnes in 2021.
Australia will come out as the top outperformer among the world’s major producers, with an average year-on-year production growth of 1.4% during the period from 2017 to 2021, compared with a 3.5% contraction in the period from 2012 to 2016.
“Lead production in Australia will post the highest growth out of the four biggest producers from 2017 to 2021, as it bounces back from successive growth declines of -10.4%, -23.3% and -2% in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively,” the research firm said in a statement.
Production in the country will increase from 490 000 t in 2017 to 535 000 t by 2021.
China, Australia, the US and Peru continue to aggregately account for more than 70% of global lead production.
“Despite this, the global lead production market share of these countries will gradually decline from 73% in 2017 to 70.2% in 2021, owing to strong production growth figures from secondary producers India, Russia and Mexico,” BMI commented.
BMI forecast a decline in the US's lead production from 333 000 t in 2017 to 286 000 t in 2021, averaging a year-on-year decline of 3.1%.
In Peru, lead production is forecast to increase from 314 000 t in 2017 to 327 000 t by 2021.
“Over 2016, Peru experienced a slight 1.9% decline in output. We forecast the country's lead production to pick up in 2017 and grow by a 1.1% yearly average during 2017 to 2021,” BMI concluded.