September 12, 2019: The lead battery industry is facing threats from the expanding EV sector – but any ‘imminent death of lead is greatly exaggerated’, CRU principal analyst Neil Hawkes told delegates in the opening presentation of the 18th Asian battery conference.
The fact that the price of lead has stepped down from six-year highs and is expected to continue to be lower rather than higher over the next two years is good news for battery manufacturers. Even recent outages at the Australian Port Pirie smelter have failed to cause shortages of the metal.
Hawkes said the fall in price could last longer than two years for several reasons — the Chinese demand boom is over, ICE vehicles are expected to peak in the mid-2020s, scrap continues to be recycled and this could all mean a longer term structural surplus.
“Lower lead prices could change the economic argument back towards lead battery usage and away from LIB usage — because of ‘cradle to grave issues’, and LAB performance will continue to improve,” said Hawkes.
“So, all is not lost for lead, but pressures on its use and its value is set to grow in the 2020s.”