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Zinc deficit grows 30% in first eight months of 2017; lead narrows gap – ILZSG

The zinc supply gap has widened by 30% year-on-year for the first eight months of this year, new data published by the International Lead and Zinc Study Group (ILZSG) shows.

The Lisbon, Portugal-based organisation on Wednesday said the zinc deficit had grown from 221 000 t over the same eight-month period in 2016, to 287 000 t in 2017.

Preliminary data recently compiled by the ILZSG also showed total reported inventories declining by 274 000 t over the same period.

World zinc mine production rose by 3.9% to 8.63-million tonnes between January and August, mainly as a result of rises in Eritrea, India, Peru and Turkey that more than offset decreases in Australia and the US.

The ILZSG also found a marginal 0.1% fall in global refined zinc metal production to 8.94-million tonnes over the same period, mainly influenced by reductions in Canada, China, the Republic of Korea and Thailand, which were balanced by a significant increase in India.

Despite small declines in use in China and Europe of 1.3% and 0.9%, respectively, the ILZSG noted that global refined zinc metal use increased by 0.6% to 9.23-million tonnes. This was mainly owing to increases in Japan, Taiwan and the US.

Imports of zinc contained in zinc concentrates into China increased by 38.9% to 714 000 t. Chinese net imports of refined zinc metal decreased by 5.3% to total 302 000 t.

The London Metals Exchange (LME) three-month benchmark price for zinc crashed through the $3 000/t-level in August, and has been trading above that level ever since – a level last observed in 2007.

LEAD DEFICIT

Meanwhile, the ILZSG said world refined lead metal demand exceeded supply by 119 000 t during the first eight months of 2017, as reported stock levels decreased by 28 000 t.

The ILZSG highlighted that a 6.8% rise in global lead mine output to 3.38-million tonnes was mainly a consequence of increases in China, India and Kazakhstan, that more than balanced a sharp decline in Australia.

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