Zinc production to surge in new decade

Zinc ingots. Image: Glencore Canada

Global zinc production is set to ramp up over the next few years, according to Fitch Solutions Macro Research.

The analyst forecast a production increase of 2.44 per cent in 2020, before increasing to 15.7 million tonnes by 2028, averaging a year on year growth of 1.97 per cent.

This is attributed to elevated zinc prices, which could incentivise expansions, restarts and new projects, and encourage idle operations to resume.

Following a healthy year of growth in 2019, Fitch Solutions also expects Australia to maintain this over the new decade, with the revamp of MMG’s Dugald River mine and Glencore restarting operations at the Lady Lorreta mine in Mt Isa, both located in Queensland.

“Over 2020, we expect New Century Resources to be a significant driver of growth as the firm ramps up its Century mine asset and refurbishes its second train of flotation cells,” Fitch Solutions stated.

“We estimate the operation is on pace to produce approximately 120,000 to 132,000 tonnes per annum, based on expected run rates achieved in December 2019, up from 94,000 tonnes in 2019.”

With a growing pipeline of projects, Fitch expects Australia to average the second fastest growth rate in the world in the lead up to 2028, beaten only by Canada.

China is also predicted to remain the biggest producer of zinc globally, despite a muted annual growth rate of 0.2 per cent.

This takes into account Chinese mining company Zijin Mining taking ownership of the second largest zinc mine in China, the Wulagen mine in Wuqia County, Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region.

Zijin Mining’s three-year strategic plan outlines its aim to grow the group mined zinc output by 0.9 to 4.3 per cent between 2020 and 2022.

The zinc market has previously struggled against unpredictable prices and trade tensions between the United States and China.

After a steady growth in 2017, 2018 and 2019, the gap between supply and demand is set to keep narrowing between now and 2022, giving the commodity a more positive outlook, according to Fitch Solutions.

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