Lead ores are mined at a rate close to 5 million tonnes a year and the world market for refined lead stands at about US $15 billion.
While it has a high economic value, lead is relatively economical to produce. As with all metals, there are two main production routes. Primary production from mined lead ore is of course the original source of all lead, but secondary production, where it is recovered from recycled products or from residues arising from the production process is of enormous importance.
Secondary lead production now accounts for more than half of all lead produced throughout the world. In the US more than 80% of lead comes from secondary production with Europe reporting over 60%. These impressive figures are made possible by the fact that most lead is used in readily recyclable applications. And unlike many recycled materials, the value of lead means that recycling is economically viable and hence self-sustainable.
The following statistics are derived from the official data compiled by the International Lead and Zinc Study Group. The ILZSG data can be found at www.ilzsg.org
(Hover over the graphs to reveal statistical values)
Global lead production and usage (million tonnes)
(Hover over the pie charts for country totals)
Lead Mine Production by country - Annual Amount (thousand tonnes)
Global Tonnage: 4,997,000
Total Metal Production by country - Annual Amount (thousand tonnes)
Global Tonnage: 10,536,000
Lead recycling by country (secondary production) - Annual Amount (thousand tonnes)
Global Tonnage: 5,799,000
Total usage by country - Annual Amount (thousand tonnes)
Global Tonnage: 10,469,000