Zinc Set to go Sky High as Supplies Deplete in Medium Term
March 9, 2012 by Gold Editor
Author: Deborah Sterescu and Andre Lamberti
Posted: March 10, 2012
Saturday, March 10, 2012 by Deborah Sterescu and Andre Lamberti Zinc's price is expected to rocket in the medium term, with several mining analysts going bullish on the metal as the market is expected to switch from surplus to deficit sometime in 2014.
The main factor that comes into play here is mine supply, with some of the biggest zinc mines in the world set to close over the coming years - the Century mine in Australia owned by China's Minmetals, which produces 500,000 tonnes a year, is due to close in early 2016, while Xstrata's (LON:XTA) Brunswick mine in Canada, which provides 220,000 tonnes a year, is due to shut in early 2013.
The loss from these plus other closures and contractions in Kazakhstan, Canada and Ireland, among others, will be almost 1.5 million tonnes.
Zinc's uses range from coatings to protect iron and steel through galvanization, to sheets for building and a range of chemical applications. The metal is used in the automotive and building and construction industries, with galvanized steel growth being the main driver of zinc demand. The total world zinc consumption was estimated to be 12.45 million tonnes in 2011.
Despite recent lowered demand forecasts from Europe, the US, and even China on the back of the country's efforts to rein in inflation and deflate its property market bubble last year, Graham Deller from CRU International still believes that the zinc market will switch from surplus to deficit at some point in 2014 as overall global demand is still expected to be on an accelerating track in the next few years with China anticipated to show healthy growth to 2016.
At some point in 2012 or 2013, Japan is also expected to get a boost in zinc demand from reconstruction in the area, after the country was hit by last year’s Tsunami.
"The price of zinc will get bid up, but no one knows by how much. It will either go up very quickly to a level that cannot be sustained, or more steadily," said Deller, the head of research for zinc, lead and precious metals at CRU International.