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Wednesday, 22 February 2017
DAILY COMMODITY MARKET STRATEGY - 23 Feb 2017
Zinc is currently the fourth most widely consumed metal in the world after iron, aluminum, and copper. It has strong anticorrosive properties and bonds well with other metals. Consequently, about one-half of the zinc that is produced is used in zinc galvanizing, which is the process of adding thin layers of zinc to iron or steel to prevent rusting. The next leading use of zinc is as an alloy; the zinc is combined with copper (to form brass) and with other metals to form materials that are used in automobiles, electrical components, and household fixtures. A third significant use of zinc is in the production of zinc oxide (the most important zinc chemical by production volume), which is used in rubber manufacturing and as a protective skin ointment. Zinc is also important for health. It is a necessary element for the proper growth and development of humans, animals, and plants. The adult human body contains between 2 and 3 grams of zinc, which is the amount needed for the body's enzymes and immune system to function properly. It is also important for taste, smell, and to heal wounds. Trace amounts of zinc occur in many foods, such as oysters, beef, and peanuts.
Where is Zinc Found?
Although the largest zinc mine is the Red Dog Mine, located in Alaska, zinc mines exist in 50 countries around the world. Among these 50+ countries, the world’s largest zinc producers are Canada, Australia, China, Peru and the United States.
The zinc mining process is conducted primarily underground, with more than 80 percent of all zinc extracted beneath the Earth’s surface. Eight percent of zinc is mined in open pits, with the remaining 12 percent being mined through both methods. Once it’s removed from the earth, the concentrate is roasted at a temperature of 950 degrees Celsius, causing zinc, and sulfur and iron oxidization. After the zinc and iron oxides are reduced to powder form and leached with diluted sulfuric acid, the solution is neutralized and contaminants are removed via filtration. In the foundry, the zinc goes on to take its final form.
The World's Biggest Zinc Producing Companies
The ten largest zinc producers accounted for just over 5.8 million tons or 45 percent of the world total. The ten largest refiners include both companies that mine and refine their own zinc ores, as well as refiners that purchase from independent mines. In many cases, refiners use both their own and sourced zinc ore supplies. The statistics below are compiled from company annual and operation reports available from producer websites (based on individual corporate fiscal year 2013 production numbers). Production numbers for each company, indicated as total zinc production, can be found beside the company's name and are indicated in kilotons (1kt).