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Lead: Things to look for in 2023

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16 January 2023

Lead: Things to look for in 2023

Report summary

The global market started 2023 with low stocks, and we do not envisage a softening until 2024. Could this be brought forward or could the market's strength intensify? Short-term macro influences on demand driven by Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine have a relatively modest bearing on the refined balance due to the major role played by replacement batteries and recycling in lead markets. Beyond them, more direct impacts of higher power costs resulting from Russian sanctions are something to follow in 2023. Increased costs have made some smelters vulnerable, while they have also boosted interest in energy storage systems, which can employ lead batteries. Key things to look for also include progress with vehicle electrification and the wider transition from lead to Li-ion batteries. The latter has been slowed recently alongside high lithium prices. As always, mine and primary smelter performance are things to follow in 2023 because their bearing on the refined balance is strong.

Table of contents

  • Potential impacts from Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine do exist
  • Vehicle electrification is the medium-term story to follow in 2023
  • Lithium prices should signal speed of transition from LABs to LiBs
  • Mines other than Abra must perform too for primary output to recover
  • ROW smelters struggle despite the drive for rationalisation in China

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