The future US lead industry – is it fit for purpose?

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07 July 2021

The future US lead industry – is it fit for purpose?

Report summary

The US, once dominant in lead, has been overtaken by China and will also fall behind India before this decade is out. US demand grew at less than 1% p.a. over the past 30 years and will show no meaningful growth over the next two decades. However, at 15% of the global total, it remains a significant consumer of lead. But while demand has been largely static, production has fallen sharply with the loss of all primary smelting and the closure of several secondary plants. The US must now import a third of its lead requirement, while at the same time it's losing huge volumes of scrap in exports. American smelters want to restrict this loss of their principal feed stock. The reality is that they could not cope with the potential volume without expanding recycling capacity - if that is even possible - or accepting continuing high levels of scrap exports. Can the US lead industry be ready for the future?

Table of contents

  • The once-dominant force in lead remains significant
  • The growing US supply-demand deficit filled by imports
  • Lead losses from the US supply chain
  • Scrap battery exports deplete available smelter feedstock
  • What if America didn’t export scrap batteries?
  • Capacity expansion – confidence, costs and controls

Tables and charts

This report includes 3 images and tables including:

  • US closes its last primary smelters; lost output over half a million tonnes as more secondaries shut
  • Supply-demand gap needs more imported lead in future without smelter capacity expansion
  • US recycling capacity can’t cope without exporting scrap batteries

What's included

This report contains:

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    The future US lead industry – is it fit for purpose?

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