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Future Trends - Lead

Much of the world's lead supply is mined together with zinc. Therefore, the future lead supply will be influenced somewhat by the course of the zinc industry. The dominant factor in the future of lead will be rate of growth and / or demand for the lead-acid battery.

Similar to the work occurring in the steel industry, direct lead production processes are being developed. These processes employ differing furnace designs, methods of heat input and process control. Although direct smelting processes (such as QSL and Kivcet) have advantages compared to the traditional sinter - blast furnace route, they still account for less than 1/3 of the primary lead production worldwide. However, this has risen from only around 10% since 1992 and is likely to increase further.

According to the International Lead and Zinc Study Group (ILZSG), the global use of lead has grown from just over 6.0 million tons in 1997 to nearly 6.8 million tons in 2000. While continued growth is projected, the impact of China on the future market is uncertain. China operates more smelters than all of the remaining world combined. However, many of these sites are small. Other factors that will impact lead demand is the switch from lead based solder. Further, the European Union will phase-out lead solder use by 2008.