The world’s five largest exporters of raw lead in 2022 were South Korea, Australia, India, the United Kingdom and Canada.
What is it used for? It is widely used in construction, plumbing, batteries, bullets and shot, weights, solder, pewter, fusible alloys, white paints, leaded gasoline and radiation protection.
At the top of the exporters is South Korea, with exports of US$ 789 million and an increase of 11% year-on-year, according to data from the World Trade Organization (WTO).
This was followed by Australia ($671 million, -12%), India ($462 million, +2%), United Kingdom ($459 million, -1%) and Canada ($365 million, -20 percent).
Lead’s properties of high density, low melting point, ductility and relative inertness to oxidation allow it to be used in a wide range of applications, of which use in lead-acid batteries is by far the most prevalent.
Furthermore, according to China Natural Resources, the reactions in the battery between lead, lead dioxide and sulfuric acid provide a reliable source of voltage.
Despite having a lower energy density and charge and discharge efficiency than lithium-ion batteries, lead-acid batteries have a stable electromotive force during discharge and a constant working voltage, as well as being significantly cheaper.
These properties and their ability to deliver high overcurrents and operate under a wide range of temperatures make them useful in the automotive industry.
Globally, exports of raw lead were $6.96 billion in 2022.
Lead is an internationally traded commodity, priced in commodity markets around the world.
During 2022, the world witnessed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, high inflation and aggressive interest rate increases in many major economies, leading to disruptions and notable fluctuations in the commodity market worldwide.
Global refined lead usage increased further, while global refined lead production declined in part due to the energy crisis caused by the Russia–Ukraine conflict, which reversed the previous lead supply surplus.