The Global Lead Market to Reach 13.2M Tonnes by 2025

Basic Precious Metals July 10, 2018
Author: Anna Sergeeva
Market Analyst

IndexBox has just published a new report "World: Refined Lead (Unwrought) - Market Report. Analysis and Forecast to 2025". Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The Lead Market Had an Upward Trend over the Last Nine Years

In 2016, the global refined lead market grew to 11.2M tonnes, growing steadily by +3.3% per year over the last nine years with only mild fluctuations. In wholesale prices, the market stood at $22.5B, illustrating a mixed trend pattern. According to IndexBox estimates, there was a significant decline by 31% in 2009, followed by strong growth over the next two years. Afterwards, however, the market value slipped back in the following year and stabilized from 2013 to 2014; it plunged again in 2015 and then flattened.

China Comprised approx. 43% of Global Lead Consumption

China (43%, based on tonnes), the U.S. (13%), India (5%), Korea (4%) and Germany (3%) were the countries with the largest consumption of refined lead in 2016.

The highest annual growth rates of refined lead consumption from 2007 to 2016 were recorded in China, with +7.3% growth, and India, with +6.5% per year. China, therefore, significantly strengthened its share in terms of the global consumption from 31% in 2007 to 43% in 2016. By contrast, the share of the U.S. declined  by -5 percentage points over the period under review.

Amongst the leading consuming countries, high levels of per capita consumption were recorded in Korea (8.4 kg/year in 2016), which was significantly higher than the world average of 1.5 kg/year. In that country, per capita consumption grew steadily in 2007-2016. The annual growth of per capita consumption from 2007 to 2016 was also notable in China, with +7.1% per year.

The Lead Market Is Forecasted to Reach 13.2M Tonnes by 2025

About 80% of the world's consumption of refined lead comes from the production of electric batteries, which are used in machine building, primarily in the automotive sector. Lead-acid batteries are used in renewable energy sources, electric vehicles and hybrid cars, as a backup emergency power supply in the event of a power failure. Lead is also used as a protective coating for buildings and structures, as well as for the production of radiographic and spectrographic equipment. In addition, lead is used in the chemical industry as a component in the production of reagents and paints.

The growth of the machine building sector, primarily the automotive sector, along with the power engineering sector, are expected to be the main drivers of growth of the global refined lead market. The growth in the production of cars in the world, and especially in China, innovation in the automotive sector, the global trend towards the transition to environmentally friendly cars and renewable energy sources, will in the future contribute to the growth of consumption of refined lead. Therefore, the refined lead market is projected to continue an upward consumption trend with a CAGR of +1.8%, which will lead the market volume to 13.2M tonnes by 2025.

Production of Lead Peaked at 11.1M Tonnes in 2016

Production of refined reached 11.1M tonnes in 2016, increasing gradually with a slight decceleration over the last few years. In value terms, it stood at $22.5B in 2016. There was a sharp decline in 2009, followed by a sharp growth over the next two years to the highest point of $28.0B in 2012. In the next year it dropped by 9% and then flattened over the next two years; however, it fell again in 2015 and stabilized in 2016. 

China, Korea and India Increased Their Lead Production, but the Output of the U.S. Declined

China was the key world producing country of refined lead, with an output of about 4.9M tonnes in 2016, which accounted for 44% of total global output. The other major producers were the U.S. (9%), Korea (6%), and India (4%).

In China, production levels increased by +6.4% annually from 2007 to 2016, largely attributed to growth of local downstream industries. Due to the same reason, the output increased in South Korea and India by +10.6% per year and +8.5% per year, respectively. By contrast, in the U.S. the volume of production declined by -2.6% per year over the same period.

Approx. 16% of Global Lead Consumption Was Imported

From 2008 to 2016, the share of imports in terms of total refined lead consumption fluctuated near 15-17%. Despite lead production being carried out in many countries, in some of these countries the domestic output remains insufficient to meet the market demand, thereby leaving a considerable room for imports.

South Korea Emerged as the Key World Exporter of Refined Lead

In 2016, the volume of global exports totalled 1,818K tonnes, remaining relatively stable over the second consecutive year. Prior to 2014, it fluctuated notably near a somewhat lower level. In value terms, it amounted to $3,669M in 2016, decreasing over the last two years.

South Korea (308K tonnes), Canada (178K tonnes), Australia (176K tonnes), Belgium (106K tonnes), Russia (102K tonnes) and the UK (100K tonnes) were the main global suppliers of refined lead with a combined share of 53% of global exports. From 2007 to 2016, South Korea (+40.9% per year) and Russia (+11.0% per year) were the fastest growing suppliers amongst the major exporters.

The U.S. Remains a Key Importer of Refined Lead

The volume of global imports totalled 1,902K tonnes, which equated $3,676M in 2016. Imports trend pattern was generally in line with exports: these trade flows globally complement each other. 

In 2016, the U.S. (412K tonnes) remained a major market for exported refined lead, alone accounting for 22% of the global imports. It was followed by Viet Nam (128K tonnes), India (113K tonnes), Spain (101K tonnes) and Turkey (93K tonnes), all lagging far behind. Together with the U.S., these countries made up approx. 45% of the global imports. Amongst the major importing countries Viet Nam (+20% per year) and the U.S. (+8.8% per year) gained the highest average annual growth rates from 2007 to 2016. While the share of the U.S. increased significantly from 12% in 2007 to 22% in 2016, the share of Viet Nam gained +5 percentage points. The shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

Do you want to know more about the global refined lead market? Get the latest trends and insight from our report. It includes a wide range of statistics on

  • refined lead market share
  • refined lead prices
  • refined lead industry
  • refined lead sales
  • refined lead import
  • refined lead export
  • refined lead market forecast
  • refined lead price forecast
  • key refined lead producers

Source: World: Refined Lead (Unwrought) - Market Report. Analysis and Forecast to 2025