As of 2022, the 15 largest zinc producing countries in the world collectively contributed to around 90% of the world’s total zinc production, with China leading at 4.2 million tons annually.
Zinc, a crucial base metal in the global industry, has substantial economic implications in construction, infrastructure, and automobile manufacturing sectors. With the global annual mined zinc production of 13 million tons in 2022 (raised from 12 million tons in the previous year), most of the world’s zinc requirements are being met.
Financially, the zinc industry has shown resilient growth, with a projected global market value of $29.54 billion in 2023 at a CAGR of 10.9%. In 2022, zinc worth the estimated value of $3.2 billion was mined in the U.S. across five states.
The 2022 zinc production went up from a value of $1.6 billion in 2020, as per the USGS report. This growth is predominantly driven by increasing demand for galvanized steel in developing economies and substantial investments in infrastructural developments.
In 2022, the premium of North American prices on the London Metal Exchange (LME) increased to unprecedented levels. According to USGS, this surge happened because of dwindling stock levels on the LME, curtailed production in European zinc smelters owing to energy costs, and the definitive shutdown of a Canadian zinc smelter.
In addition, zinc production facilities in Canada and Mexico experienced equipment malfunctions and operational disruptions that led to a further decrease in the overall mining output. The International Lead and Zinc Study Group (ILZSG) estimated that worldwide refined zinc production would reduce by 2.7% in 2022. This decrease would have made the zinc production 13.3 million tons, still lower than the calculated zinc consumption, which was 13.5 million tons in 2022.
Red Dog zinc-lead mine in Alaska, worked on by Teck Resources Limited (NYSE:TECK), is the second largest zinc mine in the world that has acquired the license for open-pit mining. Owing to its increased mining operations, Teck Resources Limited (NYSE:TECK) saw a generous throughput increase in 2022, and the open pit permitting is expected to further elevate its output in 2023.
Price Fluctuations Of Zinc
Owing to the production-to-consumption deficit and mining expenses of zinc, its prices are on an upward trajectory. According to The World Bank Pink Sheet Data, zinc’s prices have increased from $2,266 per metric ton in 2020 to $3,137 per metric ton in 2023.
S&P Global estimates that in perspective of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s hinting at increased interest rates, the prices of mined zinc are fluctuating in the first quarter of 2023. Nevertheless, the metal’s prices are contained between $2900/mt to $3100/mt.
The global zinc market is tightly balanced between the metal’s supply and demand. Industrial growth, particulalry in developing countries, has strained the demand for zinc because of its widespread application in transportation, consumer goods, and health sectors.
Notably, galvanized steel, which relies on zinc for corrosion protection, is a significant driver of this demand due to its extensive use in the automotive and construction industries. Therefore, production has struggled to keep pace with this growing demand and caused a deficit that exerts upward pressure on zinc prices. Mining giants like Glencore plc (LSE:GLEN), BHP Group Limited (NYSE:BHP), and Teck Resources Limited (NYSE:TECK) are on the forefront to identify and operate more zinc resources.
Increase in Mining Capital Expenditures
While the world’s identified zinc resources are close to 1.9 billion tons, the increase in mining capital expenses is impacting the metal’s throughput.
According to Global Data, a rise of 11.6% in mining capital expenses is expected in 20 leading mining companies globally. Amongst these companies, Glencore plc (LSE:GLEN), a Swiss mining and trading company, is expected to spend $6 billion in mining capital expenses. Glencore also has investments like Collahuasi desalination and Raglan phase 2.
Glencore plc (LSE:GLEN), being one of the largest zinc producing companies in the world, will see this rise from $4.8 billion in the previous year owing to unfavorable foreign exchange conditions and investment plans. Likewise, BHP Group Limited (NYSE:BHP), an Australian company’s mining expenses, are projected to rise from $6.1 billion in 2022 to $7.6 billion in 2023. BHP Group Limited (NYSE:BHP) mining capital expenses are also expected to reach $9bn in 2024, owing to its expansive operations.
We ranked the 15 largest zinc producing countries in the world in ascending order on their annual zinc mining production in 2022 whose data has been collected from USGS. Owing to its thorough, rigorous assessments and valuable resources, USGS serves as a trusted source of geological information. Therefore, to list the 15 largest zinc producing countries in the world, we explored the USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries 2023 Report.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) monitors, analyzes, and researches geological resources within the U.S., including zinc. The organization revises a commodity summary analysis every 3 years to shed light on metals’ mining, reserves, and fluctuations. We selected the top 11 zinc producer countries from the USGS report, but because of the limited data available in the report, other key producers were picked from The Global Economy data of 2020.
We also gathered the top zinc producing countries’ reserves from the USGS report to understand their potential production in the future. But be noted that the ranking is solely based on the listed countries’ annual zinc production.
Based on the key findings from USGS and The Global Economy data, here are the 15 largest zinc producing countries in the world:
Zinc Mine Production 2020: 0.14 Million Tons
Iran stands as the 15th largest zinc producing nation globally, with its considerable reserves of 11,000 metric tons. The country produced a robust throughput of 140,000 metric tons in 2020 and made it an integral part of the world’s zinc supply chain. The Mehdiabad project is one of the world’s largest zinc reserves that has been operational since the 1950s.
Zinc Mine Production 2020: 0.16 Million Tons
Ranking 14th in the list of the largest zinc producing countries in the world, Portugal reached 160,000 metric tons of zinc in 2020. The country’s established reserves stand at approximately 30,000 metric tons, with the Neves-Corvo mine serving as an integral part of this achievement. The advanced mining technology and responsible practices signify Portugal’s commitment to sustainable mining and bolster its position in the global zinc industry.
13. South Africa
Zinc Mine Production 2020: 0.16 Million Tons
South Africa amassed 161,000 metric tons of zinc in 2020 from an impressive reserve base of 193,8000 metric tons. The Gamsberg mine is a key resource in making S.A. the 13th largest zinc producing country, as it demonstrates resourcefulness and sustainability in its mining practices.
Zinc Mine Production 2020: 0.17 Million Tons
Brazil added 173,000 metric tons of zinc to the global market in 2020 and is the 12th amongst the largest zinc producing countries in the world. Aripuana is a zinc-lead-silver-gold mine being developed in Brazil that’s estimated to produce 20,000 tons per annum of zinc equivalent over 13 years. Brazil also has 2464,000 metric tons of zinc reserves that can influence future trends in the global zinc industry.
Zinc Mine Production 2022: 0.20 Million Tons
As of 2022, Kazakhstan is the 11th largest zinc producer country with an impressive 200,000 metric tons. This Central Asian titan is blessed with an abundance of zinc reserves estimated at 7400,000 metric tons that are bound to add to the metal’s global economy. Kazakhstan’s largest zinc mine, The Priorskoye Mine, has meticulously maintained infrastructure that facilitates zinc extraction and adheres to stringent safety protocols.
Zinc Mine Production 2022: 0.24 Million Tons
Sweden is the 10th largest zinc producer globally and generously contributes to the global zinc supply. In 2022, Sweden’s mines produced a robust 240,000 metric tons of zinc. Its considerable reserves are estimated at 4 million tons and ensure its continued influence in this sector.
Zinc Mine Production 2022: 0.25 Million Tons
Canada is amongst the top zinc producing countries, with a significant production of 250,000 metric tons in 2022. Canada’s sizable zinc reserves are estimated at 18 million tons and substantiate its long-term production potential. Canada needs particular admiration for smart mineral management, as it exports a generous percentage of its zinc production to decrease the demand-supply deficit.
Zinc Mine Production 2022: 0.28 Million Tons
Russia solidly stands as the world’s eighth-largest zinc producer. The country mined a robust 280,000 metric tons of zinc in 2022. Russia flaunts a strategic position in the global market with its staggering 22 million tons in zinc reserves that underpin its sustainable future. Russia is the 33rd largest exporter of zinc and makes substantial contributions towards the development of zinc-dependent industries.
Zinc Mine Production 2022: 0.52 Million Tons
Bolivia maintains a solid status as the 7th largest zinc producer, as it produced 520,000 metric tons in 2022. While the USGS report we have used for reference doesn’t shed light on the country’s zinc reserves, this South American nation’s dedication to mining and exporting this versatile metal doubtlessly elevates the global zinc supply chain.
Zinc Mine Production 2022: 0.74 Million Tons
Mexico is the sixth largest zinc producer, as it generated an impressive 740,000 metric tons in 2022. Backed by robust reserves estimated at 12 million tons, Mexico is the Latin American powerhouse in mining zinc. This production capacity highlights Mexico’s potential for consistent yield and authority in international zinc supply in the foreseeable future.
5. United States
Zinc Mine Production 2022: 0.77 Million Tons
As a definitive authority on mineral production, the United States ranks as the world’s 5th-largest zinc producer. The country banked 770,000 metric tons of zinc mine production in 2022. U.S.’s rich geological tapestry harbors an extensive reserve of 7.3 million tons of zinc that reflect an underpinning strength in the American mining industry. These robust reserves aim to fuel the economy and drive innovation in industries dependent on this versatile metal.
Zinc Mine Production 2022: 0.83 Million Tons
India’s diverse geology claims a mighty chunk of the planet’s mined metals, including zinc. The 2022 USGS statistics show that India is amongst the world’s top 5 zinc producing countries. This South Asian giant boasts a commendable output of 830,000 metric tons in 2022 (which is generously higher than its 2021 throughput of 777,000 metric tons). Moreover, India’s 9.6 million tons of zinc reserves provide a strong foundation for continued production. India’s proficiency in extracting this critical industrial metal, coupled with its potent zinc reserves, positions it as a leader in the zinc market.
Zinc Mine Production 2022: 1.3 Million Tons
Australia holds a distinguished position as the world’s third-largest zinc producer, with its mined throughput of 1.3 million tons of zinc in 2022. Australia’s abundant mineral wealth is evident from its reserve of 66 million tons of this valuable base metal. The country has the largest zinc reserves in the world that underscore a long-term potential for continued production.
Zinc Mine Production 2022: 1.4 Million Tons
Peru claims to be a geological powerhouse, and rightfully so. It’s the 2nd biggest zinc producer globally, whose mines impressively generated 1.4 million tons of zinc in 2022. Peru’s zinc reserves are estimated at 17 million tons, which secures its position as a leading player in the international zinc demand and supply. Peru’s sophisticated mining practices and rich geological tapestry catalyze the world’s industries by supplying zinc for galvanizing steel, brass, and die-casting alloys.
Zinc Mine Production 2022: 4.2 Million Tons
According to the latest data presented by USGS for 2022, China is the world’s leading zinc producer. It has amassed 4200,000 metric tons of zinc in 2022 and continues to improve its mining footprint. Indeed, the country’s expansive zinc reserves of 31,000,000 metric tons underscore its dominance in this field. This throughput capacity is grounded in its vast mineral wealth, which grants China a pivotal role in meeting international demand for zinc. China’s stewardship in zinc production exemplifies its strategic mining practices and serves as an essential cog in the zinc-consuming countries.
Source: yahoo finance