By Otto Rock
This was part of last weekend’s edition of The IKN Weekly. Just one small edit, the name of a company at the end.
More on Lead (Pb)
It was hectic and a bit of a squeeze to get the edition out on time last week, since then I’ve had time to fill in some blank spaces and none more so than the intriguing situation in the lead market. What I’ve found by checking the data is that there’s every reason to suppose an acceleration in the demand for lead that justifies the current voracious appetite of smelters for product.
The place to go for reliable supply demand data is the International Lead and Zinc Study Group (ILZSG), based out of Portugal and comprised of a selection of industry experts from all corners of the sector. We’ve made use of their database (22) on these pages previously for the zinc exercise which showed in 2016 the rise in demand (that’s worked out very nicely thank you) and it’s now time for its ugly sister, known in Latin as plumbum and the reason we call out the plumber who’ll often bring his plumb line. This chart derived from the data shows the supply make-up of Pb and the first thing to note is the high percentage of end user supply that comes from the re-cycling business. There are well-established firms that do this and as much as 97% of the lead used in car batteries is scavenged and sent back to battery makers to use again. However, mined supply is also on the rise and with 11 months of data for 2017 already published, our estimated as seen in the charts is likely to be within a tight margin of error and shows supply expanding again after a couple of stagnant years.