Zincs demand is being driven by its diverse range of applications. Consumer demand for zinc is consistently growing, particularly as China also embarks on a massive infrastructure plan. However, the real factor driving up the price of zinc right now is the lack of supply. Wood Mackenzie expects there will be a deficit of 350,000 tonnes this year and 150,000 tonnes in 2019. Inventory now sits at 176,275 tonnes, the lowest since 2008. This lack of supply has played a huge factor in the price of zinc, which has risen by 25% year over year, going from $ 1,500 per tonne to as high as $ 3,500 this January- a ten-year high.
This supply deficit is being driven by several factors. First, zinc is not the most common mineral in the world. There are only a limited number of zinc sources available. Second, many existing overseas zinc mines were recently shut down. For example, in 2015, mining giant Glencore cut 500,000 tonnes of production. This has left the door wide open for a new generation of North American zinc miners to fill the void.
With this perfect storm of high demand and low supply driving zinc prices to ten-year highs, it is likely that investors will be closely watching this new generation of zinc mines. Callinex Mines Inc. is an example of a zinc mining company that could benefit from an increase in investor interest in zinc.
Glencore is considered the biggest zinc producer in the world, with its operations based mainly in Australia. This year, the company intends to restart phased production at its Lady Loretta mine, with 100,000 tonnes of production expected in 2018 and an additional 60,000 tonnes in 2019. By 2020, Glencore expects to be producing 18% more zinc than in 2017, as Lady Loretta runs at full capacity and a new project in Kazakhstan comes on stream.