Zinc mines are recovering from the impacts of COVID-19, according to GlobalData, with production expected to recover by 5.2% in 2021 to reach 12.8 million tonnes (Mt).
The leading data and analytics company notes that production declined by approximately 5.9% to 12.1Mt in 2020, mainly due to COVID-19 related lockdowns and restrictions; however, looking ahead, zinc production over the forecast period (2021–2025) is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.1% to reach 13.9Mt in 2025.
Vinneth Bajaj, Mining Analyst at GlobalData, comments:
“Bolivia’s zinc was particularly affected by the pandemic in 2020, but production is now expected to recover. Mines in the region such as the Colquiri, Cerro Rico and San Cristobal sites are now reopening. Similarly, the re-opening of Peru’s Chungar Mining Unit, and El Porvenir and Cerro Lindo mines is expected to increase production in the country by 9.4%, to reach 1.5Mt in 2021.
“However, production is not recovering in all regions, as declines are expected in Canada (-5.8%) and Brazil (-19.2%) – mainly due to scheduled zinc mine closures and planned maintenance shutdowns.
“The US, India, Australia and Mexico will be the key contributors to zinc production growth in 2021-2025. Combined production in these countries is expected to increase from a forecasted 3.6Mt in 2021 to 4.2Mt in 2025.”
Bajaj highlights some key zinc mine products worldwide:
- One key upcoming project is the Aripuana Zinc mine in Brazil, which is jointly owned by Votorantim and Karmin Exploration and is currently under construction. By March 2021, 79% of the works were completed. During Q1 2021, the company invested $40m in the project, taking total investment to $353m since the beginning of construction. The project will have an annual zinc production capacity of 72.7 kilotonnes (kt), and is expected to commence operations in the third quarter of 2022.
- Another major development is the Pavlovskoye project in Russia, which is 99.5% owned by State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom and is currently undergoing a definitive feasibility study. The lead-zinc-silver project reported mineral resources of an estimated 55Mt, with an average zinc grade equivalent to 4%. The $400m project will have an annual zinc production capacity of 223kt and is expected to commence operations in 2023.
- Lastly, the Kudz Ze Kayah project in Canada, which is wholly owned by BMC Minerals Ltd (UK), is currently undergoing a definitive feasibility study (DFS) and awaiting regulatory approvals and permissions. In August 2020, the company announced that the assessment board had begun preparing its final screening report for the proposed mine development and in November 2020, the company issued an updated DFS for the project. The project will have an annual zinc production capacity of 106.6kt, and is expected to commence operations in 2023.