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“Lead is Dead” – Did the Suits and Bleeding Hearts Just Kill the Lead Industry?

For decades, lead has been under relentless regulatory and environmental pressure, and the industry recognises that its performance in these areas is directly linked with its long-term sustainability. Without safe operations and solid 'green' credentials, the lead industry would lose the moral authority to continue. Legislation, principally – and correctly – aimed at protecting workers and the environment has become ever tougher. Most of the industry has responded to these imperatives by unceasingly developing and implementing new and better systems to minimise emissions, enhance safety and increase openness to demonstrate commitment to these goals. As a collective, the industry has put clear effort into trying to bring all participants up to minimum standards, irrespective of their size or location. Nevertheless, some current and proposed legislation is now at the point where many consider it to be unrealistic and punitive. Ostensibly well-intentioned, but often naïve, regulations and mandates appear targeted at bringing about the demise of the lead industry, rather than to help it improve. Scant recognition is given to lead's outstanding potential as an environmentally beneficial metal or the imperative for a secondary industry to treat safely the millions of tonnes of lead in circulation. With now numerous governmental declarations on their electric vehicle ambitions and intentions for future bans on internal-combustion engine vehicles, will this be the final nail in the coffin for lead?

Farid Ahmed

Principal Analyst Lead Markets, Wood Mackenzie Ltd

Farid Ahmed has spent his entire career in the metals industry. After some years in production and technical roles, he transitioned into the commercial world of lead with the advantage of being able to combine his specialist background with the wider business needs of a technical and commodity-based product. In 2005 he founded a business consultancy focusing on the metals industry and on lead in particular. Farid joined Wood Mackenzie in 2105 as Principal Analyst Lead Markets.