Global lead strategic planning outlook - Q1 2023
With the pandemic no longer prompting heavy-handed measures following China’s lifting of Xi's zero-Covid policy, the external factors driving lead markets remain associated with the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, i.e. elevated energy prices, the resulting inflationary pressures and the response from policymakers. Amid the evolution of these repercussions are economic stimuli to accelerate the energy transition and critical mineral “protectionism” that are distorting established trade patterns. The speed of the energy transition will influence global lead markets in the medium to long term. We forecast demand to 2028 increasing by 1.6% p.a., which is slower than the pace of 2.8% in the previous five years. Surplus refined metal is forecast to emerge with stocks at the end of 2026 reaching long-term average levels. Relatively low levels will support prices at an average $2150/t ($2081/t real) in 2023-2026 and fall to a low of $2000/t ($1838/t real) in 2027.