Zinc

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Curious about zinc production? According to the US Geological Survey, China remained the top producer in 2021 by a long shot.

Zinc prices have faced ups and downs in 2022, but overall have trended lower.

The metal has suffered the same fate as most other base metals, which have been battered by concerns about Russia's war in Ukraine and the widespread economic fallout that may push the world into a recession. Nevertheless, the broad consensus among market watchers is that zinc prices will do better in the years to come.

Given that situation, it’s interesting to look at how zinc supply is doing. Here’s a brief overview of the top zinc production in the world by country for 2021, as per the most recent data from the US Geological Survey.


1. China

Mine production: 4.2 million MT

In 2021, China achieved the top zinc production in the world by a long shot, putting out 4.2 million metric tons (MT) of the metal; that’s an increase from the 4.06 million MT it produced in 2020.

Not surprisingly, the Asian nation is not only the world’s largest zinc producer, but also a significant consumer of the metal. In fact, China is a big part of why zinc has fared so well in recent years — growing demand for the metal was supported by strong property sales in the country and by the Chinese government’s push for more infrastructure projects.

2. Peru

Mine production: 1.6 million MT

Zinc production in Peru increased by 270,000 MT in 2021 compared to 2020. In 2017, the country pushed past India and Australia to become the second largest zinc producer.

Modern zinc refining began in Peru in the 1920s, and from the 1970s to the 1990s the country saw an increase in private international investors hoping to up the country’s zinc production. The Santander mine, purchased by Cerro de Pasco Resources (CSE:CDPR,OTC Pink:GPPRF) from Trevali Mining in late 2021, produces zinc and lead-silver concentrates.

3. Australia

Mine production: 1.3 million MT

Australia produced 1.3 million MT of zinc in 2021, slightly down from 2020's 1.31 million MT. Zinc production in the country comes mainly from Glencore's (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) Mount Isa and McArthur River zinc mines, EMR Capital Group's Golden Grove mine, China Minmetals' Dugald River mine and New Century Resources' (ASX:NCZ,OTC Pink:NWNNF) Century tailings mine.

4. India

Mine production: 810,000 MT

India’s zinc production increased by 90,000 MT in 2021. The country is home to one of the world’s top zinc mines — the Rampura Agucha mine in Rajasthan, which has an ore production capacity of 6.15 million MT per year.

India’s increasing production in recent years is thought to be the result of the completion of the Rampura Agucha underground mine, as per the US Geological Survey.

5. United States

Mine production: 740,000 MT

The US produced 740,000 MT of zinc in 2021, up from 2020’s 718,000 MT. According to the US Geological Survey, zinc was mined in five states at seven mines operated by five companies last year. Three smelter facilities produced commercial-grade zinc metal.

The two largest zinc mines in the country are both in Alaska: Teck Resources' (TSX:TECK.B,TSX:TECK.A,NYSE:TECK) Red Dog mine and Renco Group's (HKEX:2323) Sweetwater mine. In November 2021, zinc was added to a revised US critical minerals list.

6. Mexico

Mine production: 720,000 MT

Mexico’s zinc output increased by 82,000 MT from 2020 to 2021. While Grupo Mexico (BMV:GMEXICOB) is the country’s biggest mining company, Industrias Penoles (BMV:PE&OLES) is its largest natural resource company and Mexico’s biggest producer of zinc.

Mexico Business has reported that zinc output is likely to grow even further as several new projects are slated to reach production in the next six years. Companies developing these projects include Southern Copper (NYSE:SCCO), Teck Resources, Endeavour Silver (TSX:EDR,NYSE:EXK) and Discovery Silver (TSXV:DSV,OTCQX:DSVSF).

7. Bolivia

Mine production: 490,000 MT

Bolivia produced 490,000 MT of zinc in 2021. That’s a big move up from the year before, when production reached 360,000 MT. Sumitomo’s (OTC Pink:SSUMF,TSE:8053) San Cristobal mine is a key producer of zinc in the country; it is one of the world’s largest zinc-producing mines, as well as one of the largest silver producers in the world.

In October 2021, Glencore sold its Bolivian zinc assets to Santacruz Silver Mining (TSXV:SCZ), including the Reserva, Tres Amigos and Colquechaquita mines.

8. Russia

Mine production: 280,000 MT

Russia’s zinc output remained flat year-over-year. The two largest zinc-producing mines in the country, the Bashkirskaya Med mine and the Uchalinsk mine, are both owned by Ural Mining and are located in the Republic of Bashkortostan.

9. Canada

Mine production: 260,000 MT

Canada’s zinc output has generally speaking been on the decline for the last few years, but its output increased from 211,000 MT in 2020 to 260,000 MT in 2021. Manitoba is the largest zinc-producing province in the country, with output of 131,125 MT.

Manitoba is home to Canada's three largest zinc operations: Hudbay Minerals' (TSX:HBM,NYSE:HBM) Lalor mine and the 777 mine and Glencore's Kidd Creek mine.

10. Sweden

Mine production: 230,000 MT

Rounding out the top 10 for zinc production in the world by country is Sweden, which produced 230,000 MT of zinc in 2021, a slight decrease from 232,000 MT the year before. Boliden’s (STO:BOL) Garpenberg zinc-silver mine and Lundin Mining’s (TSX:LUN,OTC Pink:LUNMF) Zinkgruvan zinc-copper mine are located in the Scandinavian country.

Don’t forget to follow us@INN_Resource for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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