The slow but steady improvement in lead prices since last summer took a dramatic turn in late 2016, with values leaping upwards to hit 5-year highs, before inevitably retreating in the first half of 2017. This lead price spike should not, however, distract from the underlying improvement underway from not only broader metal price drivers; but also improvements in lead’s own industry fundamentals. Regarding the latter point, one key factor that will continue to drive lead prices in the late 2010s will be the more erratic path of primary lead production. World-wide, tighter lead concentrate (mine) availability is starting to restrain the ability of primary smelters to fill fully the gap between lead demand and secondary lead supplies. The scale of the shortfall in primary lead supplies will, however, be diluted by the importance of secondary supplies that will continue to rise steadily. Everywhere, the main issue in lead recycling continues to be the fight between smelters for a share of the available scrap pool. On the primary supply side, all eyes are now on the response of polymetallic mines (typically producing lead alongside zinc and silver) to higher metal prices and lower treatment charges. In this presentation, CRU will highlight key developments in global lead production and provide some insight into how the future path of production might impact the future direction of lead prices.
Lead Market Analyst
Neil Hawkes has been responsible for CRU’s lead market analysis for over 25 years and is the main author of the company’s regular reports on this metal and is a regular speaker at conferences. First founded in 1969, CRU specializes in commodities and delivers global business intelligence across a wide variety of non-ferrous and ferrous metals through analysis, prices, consulting and conferencing.