July 15, 2021: A leap in demand for replacement auto batteries that have died while cars have sat on people’s drives during national lockdowns has led to a surge in demand for replacement batteries as restrictions have lifted — and an ensuing hike in lead price rises, reported Reuters on July 6.
Commodity analyst firm Wood Mackenzie predicted the demand for lead needed in replacement car batteries would rise by almost 6% on 2020 levels to 6.5 million tonnes in 2021, similar to pre-pandemic levels.
Lead hit its highest price since July 2018 at $2,344 a tonne on July 12, according to the LME, although it had dropped to around $2,300 on July 13.
According to Reuters, stocks of lead in warehouses registered with the London Metal Exchange were down 11,000 tonnes in the first four months of 2021 compared with 2020, when they held 30,000 tonnes.
Shortages were felt most acutely in the US automotive sector, which in turn drove up global prices.
Quoting Asia Metals, the agency said part of the reason behind shortages was tight concentrates — which ‘can be seen in treatment charges paid by miners to process concentrate into refined metal, dropping to their lowers since September 2019 at $50 a tonne’.