Zinc is a corrosion-resistant metal with a bluish white colour. Zinc is used in particular to protect other metals such as iron or steel and to extend their life. This process is also known as “electro galvanising”. Zinc is the fourth most used metal, coming directly below iron, copper and aluminium.
There are zinc deposits all over the world, but the metal is produced primarily in Australia, Canada, China, Peru and the USA. Over half of the world’s zinc output is used to galvanise other metals, while only 21 per cent is used to manufacture pure zinc products. A further 18 per cent of the world’s zinc output is used to produce brass.
Because of its electrochemical properties, zinc is also used in drycell consumer batteries, however, known as zinc carbon batteries. Zinc is also an important resource in the paint, cosmetics, fertiliser and medicine sectors. The metal is also used as a dietary supplement since it is a vital trace element for the human organism.
In 2006, the demand for zinc was slightly higher than the global output for the first time. This production deficit will become even more pronounced in the coming years, according to the International Lead and Zinc Study Group (ILZSG). This excess demand can only be met for a limited time through destocking, however.
The most important trading venues for zinc are the London Metal Exchange and the Shanghai Metal Exchange.