Global lead production to recover by 4.6% in 2021, after a 5% fall in 2020, says GlobalData

Global lead production is forecast by GlobaData to recover by 4.6% and reach 4,690.3 thousand tonnes (kt) in 2021 thanks to increased output from mines in China (+3.3%) and Peru (+9.9%). The leading data and analytics company notes that China, Australia, Russia and Canada will be the key contributors to future growth to 2025.

Vinneth Bajaj, Mining Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The temporary suspension of several mines* disrupted supply last year. In Peru, the Antamina mine was suspended for around six weeks during Q2 2020 as part of pandemic measures, while Mexico’s San Rafael mine was also suspended due to an illegal blockade by the company’s workforce. There were also other mine-specific issues impacting supply – such as a pit failure at Vedanta’s Skorpion mine, a breakdown in the ore conveyor belt at the Boliden’s Tara mine and an illegal blockade at the Americas Gold and Silver Corp.’s San Rafael mine.”

Overall Peru suffered the greatest decline in output, with production down by 21.9%, as the country dropped from the third-largest producer to fifth-largest. Output also fell in China and Australia – the world’s first and second-largest lead producers – with China seeing a 1.8% drop and Australia seeing a 2.1% drop.

Bajaj continues: “Despite these losses, global lead production over the forecast period is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.5%, to reach 5.2Mt in 2025. China, Australia, Russia and Canada will be the key contributors to this growth. Combined production in these countries is expected to increase from a forecasted 2.8Mt in 2021 to 3.1Mt in 2025.”

Key projects expected to commence operations during the forecast period include the Abra in Western Australia, which is currently undergoing construction. While the project’s debt financing has been slowed due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the company is targeting its initial production in 2022, with an annual lead capacity of 95kt.

Brazil’s Aripuana mine, which is jointly owned by Votorantim and Karmin Exploration, is also currently under construction. The project’s mechanical works are anticipated to be completed by December 2021 before production commences in early 2022. The $547m project will have an annual lead production capacity of 25.2kt.

Lastly, the Sorby Hills project in Australia is currently on track, undergoing a fully funded feasibility study and awaiting regulatory approvals and permissions. With an initial lead production capacity of 50kt per annum, the project is expected to commence operations in 2023.

* Mines such as Raura, Uchucchacua, Milpo No.1, Atacocha, the El Porvenir, Bismark, Francisco I, Madero, Antamina, Aguilar and Tara saw suspensions in 2020.

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