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India
[India]
Posted on : Jun 07, 2018

Prices of lead have maintained a steady uptrend since the summer lows last year and in January have been eroding resistance around October's  6-year  high  above $2,600/tonne. Analysts expect the underlying strengthening fundamentals, especially on the supply side, to maintain the uptrend this year. Primary producers may well struggle to respond to higher lead prices and there may hardly be any hoarded scrap around.


Lead is poised to rally as the demand remains  robust for car sales in China, coupled with solid industrial production data from China, Europe and North America. "Demand from producers of stationary industrial batteries, which use lead, was expected to continue to grow, but turned out to be subdued," said Jan Lammersen, Economist at Focus Economics.


Looking at supply, "the ongoing environmental crackdown in China, which is aimed at solving its pervasive pollution problem, led  to  disrupted  supply  chains and  decreased Chinese output," he added. In 2018, Lammersen expects to see more of the same in the lead market. "Ongoing tightness in the underlying fundamentals and a mismatch in supply and demand will continue to support prices," he said.


In fact, according to the International Lead and Zinc Study is forecast to reach 11.82 million tonnes in 2018, while supply will reach only 5.11 million tonnes. As a result, the group expects the base metal to reach a deficit of 45,000 tonnes next year.


CPM Group analyst Yvonne Li also sees the global lead market continuing to experience a deficit of refined supply relative to fabrication demand through 2018. "The deficit is expected to narrow to approximately 50,000 MT in 2018 from around 120,000 MT in 2017," she  commented.


In addition, she believes investors should keep an eye on secondary lead's increasing use in refined lead production. Greater usage of secondary lead for this purpose could help make up for potential losses in refined supply due to mine closures.


"Globally, secondary lead output accounted for 56.4 percent of total refined production in the January-to-August period this year; in developed economies, the percentage is much higher - Germany (68 percent), Spain (100percent ), US (100percent)," said Li.


She said in China secondary lead is also increasingly being used to produce refined lead, noting, "in the January-to-Sept ember period, secondary lead output accounted for 39 percent, an all-time high."


Meanwhile, CRU Group analysts believe a key factor to watch next year will be how polymetallic miners (those mining lead alongside zinc and silver) respond to higher lead prices and lower treatment charges.


Recycling on the move


Further, according to report published by Grand View Research, the global battery recycling market is expected  to reach USD 21.04 billion by 2025.The presence of stringent government regulations is expected to have a positive impact on the market growth over the next eight years. Transportation rapid growth in the battery recycling market. Growing demand for lithium-ion battery in electric vehicles  and  portable  devices on account of  its high  efficiency, long life, and low maintenance is expected to positively impact the demand for recycled products.


The industry is price driven, which in turn is expected to restrain the market growth over the forecast period. Price becomes a key differentiating factor as most recyclers make use of more or less the same technology. High competition among the players does not allow large variation in the prices, thereby reducing the profitability of recycling firms. Companies are making efforts to improve the competitiveness by setting up new collection centers and recycling plants. Moreover, new  processes are being developed to bring down cost & combat environmental pollution. ECOBAT has developed its own collection system to collect spent batteries.


Key findings


The report suggests that the lithium­ ion segment is expected to register a CAGR of 11.3% from 2017 to 2025, due to the growing demand from the  electric vehicle  industry.


Lead acid segment dominated the market in 2016 and is likely to grow at a predicted CAGR of 10.5% from 2017 to 2025 owing to its high recycling ability, cost efficiency, and high capacity. The transportation segment emerged as the major application in 2016 and is likely to grow at the fastest CAGR of 11.4% from 2017 to 2025 on account of growing industries such as automotive, aviation, and marine. Europe held revenue share of 36.8% in 2016 and is expected witness a CAGR of 9.8% from 2017 to 2025 due to strict government regulations regarding battery recycling in the region. The Asia Pacific region is anticipated to be the fastest-growing  market  from 2017 to 2025 on  account  of rapidly growing end-use industries including automotive, consumer electronics, and industrial application. Expansions, mergers & acquisitions, and agreements are the key strategies  adopted by the companies over the past years. For instance, in August 2016, Aqua Metals opened its AquaRefinery to recycle lead acid batteries by using on-polluting electrochemical process.

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