May 17, 2020

What do we know about Zinc?

Zinc
zinc production
mining
Chinese zinc production
Dale Benton
2 min
What do we know about Zinc?
A new lead and zinc mine in China has been discovered in the far-western region of Xinjiang.

With almost 19 million tonnes of lead and zinc reserves, t...

A new lead and zinc mine in China has been discovered in the far-western region of Xinjiang.

With almost 19 million tonnes of lead and zinc reserves, the mine in Hotan county becomes the largest lead and zinc mine in the country.

Zinc, has been a mined commodity since as far back as the 18th century.

Here are ten things you need to know about Zinc:

  1. Zinc, was used for making brass and medicinal purposes a good few centuries before it was identified as an element
  2. Pure metallic zinc wasn’t actually discovered until 1746, where it was credited to the hands of Andreas Marggfraf
  3. Zinc is, wait for it, the fourth most widely consumed metal in the world. The other three? Iron, aluminium and copper – but you knew that already
  4. One of the most common uses of zinc in the modern world is to combat rust. Yes, rust. While it may give it an old fashioned look with a bit of character, it is dangerous to steels. Zinc is used in zinc galvanising, what with its anti-corrosive properties and all. The process sees thin layers of zinc added to iron or steel to prevent rusting.
  5. Zinc is used for Zinc alloys. Combined with aluminium and copper, zinc alloys are used widely in the production of many components and die-casting fittings in the automobile manufacturing industry and the mechanical industry. For example, zinc alloy is used as a covering material for roofs
  6. Zinc alloys make up around 20 percent of all zinc applications in the world.
  7. Zinc is also used in batteries, but Alkaline batteries are more commonly used these days
  8. In 2016, the top three zinc producing countries are; China 4.9m MT, Australia 1.58m MT and Peru 1.37m MT
  9. Zinc as a mineral is naturally present in some foods, added to others and can be taken as a dietary supplement. Studies have shown that zinc may have antioxidant defects, is effective against infection and good for tissue repair.
  10. Foods which are a good source of zinc are red meats, poultry, oysters, seafood and whole grains

 

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Get in touch with our editor Dale Benton at [email protected]

 

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May 7, 2021

Lithium producers bullish as EV revolution ramps demand

Lithium
Electric Vehicles
Albemarle
SQM
3 min
Lithium producers are drawing optimism from rising prices for the electric vehicle battery metal

Rising demand for lithium is stoking prices for the electric vehicle battery metal, fueling long-delayed expansions that still may not produce adequate supplies that automakers need to meet aggressive production plans.

Lithium

Growing industry optimism from higher lithium prices is a change from last year when funding for mines and processing plants dried up during the pandemic.

Albemarle Corp, Livent Corp and other producers are scrambling to make more lithium, but some analysts worry the recent price jump will not spur a big enough expansion to meet a planned wave of new EV models by mid-decade.

Since January, General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation Co, along with other automakers and battery parts manufacturers, have said they will spend billions of dollars on EV plants.

U.S. President Joe Biden has proposed spending $174bn to boost EV sales and infrastructure. The European Union has similar plans, part of a rush to catch up with global EV leader China.

Those moves have helped an index of lithium prices jump 59 percent since April 2020, according to data from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a commodity pricing provider.

The rising demand “reflects what feels like a real and fundamental turning point in our industry,” said Paul Graves, chief executive of Livent Corp, which supplies Tesla Inc. On Monday, it said it would more than double its annual lithium production to 115,000 tonnes.

Graves warned, though, that “it will be a challenge for the lithium industry to produce sufficient qualified material in the near and medium term.”

Albermarle

Albemarle, the world’s largest lithium producer, aims to double its production capacity to 175,000 tonnes by the end of the year when two construction projects are complete. Albemarle's Q1 profit beat expectations thanks to rising lithium prices. Chile’s SQM, the No. 2 producer, said its goal to expand production of lithium carbonate by 71 percent to 120,000 tonnes should be complete by December.

Australia’s Orocobre is paying $1.4 billion for smaller rival Galaxy Resources, a strategy designed to boost scale and help it grow faster in regions closer to customers.

“The next few years are going to be critical in terms of whether there’s enough available lithium supply, and that’s why you’re starting to see commodity prices start to ramp,” said Chris Berry, an independent lithium industry consultant.

The price gains helped Albemarle and other major producers, including China’s Ganfeng Lithium Co and SQM, post big gains in first-quarter profit and boost forecasts for the year.

Even China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp, saddled with debt due to years of low lithium prices, signaled that recovering demand should help it swing to a profit this year.

Electric Vehicles

Forecasts call for demand for the white metals to surge from about 320,000 tonnes annually last year to more than 1 million tonnes annually by 2025, when many automakers plan to launch new EV fleets, according to Benchmark.

Still, demand is expected to outstrip supply in 2025 by more than 200,000 tonnes, so lithium prices may need to rise to encourage producers to build more mines. That could boost the prices consumers pay for EVs. “Companies across the lithium-ion supply chain are in the best position they’ve been in for the last 5 years,” said Pedro Palandrani of the Global X Lithium & Battery Technology ETF , which has doubled in value in the past year.

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