Analyst comment

Australia set to deliver the highest lead production growth in 2024

Australia will play a key role in the projected growth in global lead production in 2024.

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Lead sulphide from Mount Farrel Mine in Australia. Credit: Jason Benz Bennee/Shutterstock

Global lead production is expected to grow by 4.3% to over 4.7Mt in 2024. The increase will predominantly be fuelled by rising output from key producers such as Australia, the US, and Russia.

Australia is expected to deliver the highest lead production growth in 2024, driven by the Abra and Federation projects. Russia's Ozernoe and Prognoz, and US's Hermosa will also contribute to the global increase.

Australia accounted for 9.2% (414.4kt) of the total global lead supply in 2023. Despite a 5.3% dip in output in 2023 due to adverse weather conditions and planned ore grade reductions, its output is expected to recover in 2024, with forecast production of 484.6kt.

This will be supported by the ramp-up of the Abra Base Metals mine and the commencement of the Federation underground project, which is one of Australia's premier high-grade base metal ventures. Wholly owned by Aurelia Metals, the project is expected to have an annual saleable lead production capacity of 29kt. It is currently in the construction phase and  on track to commence operations in Q3 2024.

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Meanwhile, global lead production in 2024 will be further bolstered by increasing output from Brazil's Aripuana Zinc project, alongside the initiation of new ventures such as Russia's Ozernoe and Prognoz, and the Hermosa project in the US.

In contrast, China, the world's largest lead miner, is anticipated to show relatively stagnant output in 2024, with a modest 0.9% year-on-year increase. This is attributed to sustained production levels in existing mines and a lack of new capacity additions.

Ireland's output will face challenges as Boliden’s Tara mine has been in care and maintenance since July 2023, due to adverse cashflows stemming from a decline in commodity prices.

Looking ahead, global lead production is expected to show marginal growth over the decade, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.8% from 2024 to 2030, as output reaches 4,954.4kt in 2030.