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Commodities: Gold and Zinc Crush it in Q1, Energy Gets Smoked

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Presented by:  First Mining Finance

Commodities: Gold and Zinc Crush it in Q1, Energy Gets Smoked

Commodities: Gold and Zinc Crush it in Q1, Energy Gets Smoked

The start of 2016 has been a roller coaster for investors.

Global markets had their worst ever start in the first trading days of the year, with the S&P 500 eventually shedding 10.5% by early February. Stocks have rebounded since then, but tension is still in the air with record longs on the VIX Volatility Index.

Precious Metals
For this reason, among many others, investors piled into precious metals in Q1 of 2016. Gold finished up an impressive 15.9%, buoyed by record buying in gold ETFs. Meanwhile, silver and platinum, which are considered precious metals with more industrial uses, were also up in Q1 to a lesser extent: 9.4% and 6.6% respectively.

Base Metals
Base metals were all over the map in the first few months of the year. Zinc shot up a surprising 20%, though it has been overdue for a bounce back since hitting five-year lows in 2015. Nickel and copper, however, did not perform as admirably. Nickel was in negative territory (-3.1%) and copper ultimately ended up flat, despite a large rally in February and early-March.

Energy
The energy sector had no real winners, with WTI crude, natural gas, and uranium all ending up in the red. Natural gas was the worst of these with a steep -17.0% drop as it continues to eye multi-decade lows. Some analysts expect more downward pressure on natural gas now that the quantity of gas in storage is 34.2% higher than the five-year average.

Food
The world’s key agricultural commodities were a mixed bag in terms of performance. Soybeans jumped 4.2% in value, but wheat (1.0%) and corn (-0.3%) only had subtle changes in prices.

With many looming questions for Q2, we’re sure that our next quarterly update will be just as eventful. Concerns around a potential Brexit, negative interest rates, stagnating manufacturing, and a potential U.S. rate hike could make for a particularly interesting time period.

Chart presented by: First Mining Finance Corp.

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Batteries

Ranked: The World’s Largest Lithium Producers in 2023

Three countries account for almost 90% of the lithium produced in the world.

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Voronoi graphic showing the top lithium producers in 2023.

The World’s Largest Lithium Producers in 2023

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Three countries—Australia, Chile, and China—accounted for 88% of lithium production in 2023.

In this graphic, we list the world’s leading countries in terms of lithium production. These figures come from the latest USGS publication on lithium statistics (published Jan 2024).

Australia Leads, China Approaches Chile

Australia, the world’s leading producer, extracts lithium directly from hard-rock mines, specifically from the mineral spodumene.

The country saw a big jump in output over the last decade. In 2013, Australia produced 13,000 metric tons of lithium, compared to 86,000 metric tons in 2023.

RankCountryLithium production 2023E (metric tons)
1🇦🇺 Australia86,000
2🇨🇱 Chile44,000
3🇨🇳 China33,000
4🇦🇷 Argentina9,600
5🇧🇷 Brazil4,900
6🇨🇦 Canada3,400
7🇿🇼 Zimbabwe3,400
8🇵🇹 Portugal380
🌍 World Total184,680

Chile is second in rank but with more modest growth. Chilean production rose from 13,500 tonnes in 2013 to 44,000 metric tons in 2023. Contrary to Australia, the South American country extracts lithium from brine.

China, which also produces lithium from brine, has been approaching Chile over the years. The country increased its domestic production from 4,000 metric tons in 2013 to 33,000 last year.

Chinese companies have also increased their ownership shares in lithium producers around the globe; three Chinese companies are also among the top lithium mining companies. The biggest, Tianqi Lithium, has a significant stake in Greenbushes, the world’s biggest hard-rock lithium mine in Australia.

Argentina, the fourth country on our list, more than tripled its production over the last decade and has received investments from other countries to increase its output.

With all the top producers increasing output to cover the demand from the clean energy industry, especially for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, the lithium market has seen a surplus recently, which caused prices to collapse by more than 80% from a late-2022 record high.

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