Strong zinc prices are increasingly prompting miners to bring idled capacity back on line and invest in new projects.
The latest ‘Global Zinc Mining Outlook’ report shows that the return of some stalled capacity and new projects in key countries will drive growth over the coming quarters, despite some capacity being taken off line over 2015 to 2016 owing to permanent mine closures.
“Globally, mined zinc production will continue to ramp up over the coming years as elevated prices encourage miners to restart idled capacity and begin production at key new mines,” said Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research.
Global zinc mine production is forecast to increase by 1.6% year-on-year in 2019 to 13.2-million tonnes and achieve an average of 1.9% growth to 15.7-million tonnes by 2028.
China's zinc production will stagnate owing to declining ore grades and increasingly stringent environmental regulations, with a 0.2% yearly increase expected from 4.3-million tonnes in 2019 to 4.4-million tonnes by 2028.
“Despite this muted growth rate, China will remain the largest global producer of zinc by a wide margin. We forecast China's position to erode from 33% of global mine production in 2018 to 28% by 2028,” the report indicated.
Fitch Solutions predicts that Australia's zinc sector will gradually recover as rising prices prompt miners to restart major operations, achieving the second fastest growth rate globally to 2028 with a healthy pipeline of projects.
“We forecast the country's zinc production to increase from 940 000 t in 2018 to 1.02-million tonnes by 2019, supported by the fully operational Dugald River mine. By 2028 we expect zinc production to reach 1.3-million tonnes, averaging 3.4% growth year-on-year, on the back of rising zinc prices and the solid project pipeline,” it said.
India, which will increasingly drive global zinc production growth, is forecast to increase zinc output from 876 000 t in 2019 to 1.4-million tonnes by 2028, while output in Peru will increased from 1.6-million tonnes in 2018 to 2.05-million tonnes by 2028, recording an average 2.6% yearly growth rate.