Certain commodities tend to fly under the radar for periods of time.
For example, it was only in the last couple of years that markets have been able to digest the potential impact of the electric vehicle boom, and what it may mean for raw materials. The lithium, graphite, and cobalt prices reacted accordingly, and suddenly these essential ingredients for lithium-ion batteries were hot commodities.
Another one of those metals that comes and goes is zinc – and after shooting up in price over 35% this year, it definitely has the attention of many investors and speculators again.
Today’s infographic comes to us from Pistol Bay Mining, a company that is too focusing on zinc, and it highlights 11 things that investors need to know about a metal that is gaining substantial momentum.
Here’s why the metal is back in fashion:
1. Zinc is a $34 billion per year market.
It’s bigger than the silver ($18 billion), platinum ($8 billion), and molybdenum ($5 billion) markets combined. In fact, it is the fourth-most used metal worldwide.
2. Zinc smelting and production technology came way later than it did for other metals.
The ancients were able to smelt copper, lead, and iron, but it wasn’t until much later that people were able to work with zinc in any isolated state.
3. Even despite this, it was a crucial metal for ancient peoples.
They would smelt zinc-rich copper ores to make brass, which was used for many different purposes including weaponry, ornaments, coins, and armor.
4. Zinc is also crucial to produce many alloys today.
For example, brass is used for musical instruments and hardware applications that must resist corrosion. Solder and nickel-silver are other important alloys.
5. The world’s first-ever battery used zinc as an anode.
The voltaic pile, made in 1799 by Alessandro Volta, used zinc and copper for electrodes with brine-soaked paper as an electrolyte.
6. The metal remains crucial for batteries today.
Zinc-air, silver-zinc, zinc-bromine, and alkaline batteries all use zinc, and they enable everything from hearing aids to military applications to be possible.
7. Galvanizing is still the most important use.
About 50% of the metal is used in galvanizing, which is essentially a way to coat steel or iron so that it doesn’t rust.
8. China is both a major producer and end-user.
China mined 37% of the world’s 13.4 million tonnes of zinc production in 2015. It consumed 47% of the world’s supply that same year.
9. Major mines have been shutting down.
In 2016, China ordered the shutdown of 26 lead and zinc mines in parts of the Hunan province for environmental reasons. Meanwhile, Ireland’s Lisheen Mine and Australia’s Century Mine both shut down last year after being depleted of resources. That takes 630,000 tonnes of annual production off the table.
10. Stockpiles are dwindling.
Warehouse levels are less than half of where they were in 2013.
11. Zinc has been one of the best performing metals in 2016 in terms of price.
It started the year around $0.70/lb, but now it trades for $1.04/lb.
An Investor’s Guide to Copper in 3 Charts
Explore three key insights into the future of the copper market, from soaring demand to potential supply constraints.
An Investor’s Guide to Copper
Copper is the world’s third-most utilized industrial metal and the linchpin of many clean energy technologies. It forms the vital connections in our electricity networks, grid storage systems, and electric vehicles.
In this graphic, sponsored by iShares, we dig into the forces that are set to shape the future of the copper landscape.
How Much Copper Do We Need?
Copper is poised to experience a remarkable 54% surge in demand from 2022 to 2050.
Here’s a breakdown of the expected demand for copper across clean energy technologies.
|Technology||2022 (kt)||2050P (kt)|
|Other low emissions power generation||93.7||142.2|
|Grid battery storage||24.6||665.2|
Copper is vital in renewable energy systems such as wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicle batteries because of its high electrical conductivity and durability.
It ensures the effective transmission of electricity and heat, enhancing the overall performance and sustainability of these technologies.
The rising demand for copper in the clean energy sector underscores its critical role in the transition to a greener and more sustainable future.
When Will Copper Demand Exceed Supply?
The burgeoning demand for copper has set the stage for looming supply challenges with a 22% gap predicted by 2031.
Given this metal’s pivotal role in clean energy and technological advancements, innovative mining and processing technologies could hold the key to boosting copper production and meeting the needs of a net-zero future.
Investing in Copper for a Prosperous Future
Investors looking for copper exposure may want to consider an ETF that tracks an index that offers access to companies focused on the exploration and mining of copper.
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