The 11 largest zinc producing countries in the world are responsible for the production of approximately 13 million tons of the element in just 2019 alone, which is an increase of 4% when compared with 2018.
Zinc is an extremely important element, and has myriad uses, but perhaps the greatest use that zinc has is in galvanization. The process of galvanization includes steel and / or iron being coated with a protective layer of zinc. This is practiced because zinc corrodes very slowly and that additional layer to cover metals prevent the metals from corroding as well. This galvanized steel is then used in various applications, such as street lamps, suspension bridges and car bodies among others.
In addition to galvanizing, zinc also has other uses, and zinc oxide is used in various products which include but are not limited to pharmaceuticals, rubber and paints. Another important usage of zinc is being used in coins, at least in the United States, especially the penny. The penny consists of 97.5% zinc, while the rest is made of copper.
In the United States, zinc production in 2019 alone was worth an astounding $2.1 billion. And the United States isn’t even in the top 3 zinc producers in the world. If this rate is applied on the global production, the value of total zinc produced globally in 2019 would amount to over $29 billion! If you’re interested in learning more about other elements, you might want to take a look at the top 10 tungsten producing countries in the world.
In the US, just like in other countries, zinc is used primarily in galvanizing steel and iron, and was mined in six states. Secondary used of zinc in the country included being used in bronze, brass and zinc based alloys. However, production in 2019 in the country decreased for zinc, mainly due to the closure of a mine in Washington.
Since the US is not the biggest producer of zinc in the world, it has to rely on imports from other countries around the world. Canada is responsible for 64% of the US’s total zinc imports, followed by Mexico, Australia and then Peru.
The aforementioned global increase of 4% was mainly driven from South Africa, Australia and China, but despite the increases in production, demand still outpaced supply, with a net deficit of 180,000 tons.
To rank the largest zinc producing countries in the world, we consulted the Mineral Commodities Summaries 2020 and ranked each country according to its production in both 2018 and 2019, to achieve more accurate rankings. So let’s take a look at the countries responsible for around 83% of total global zinc production, starting with number 11:
Production of zinc in 2018 (in thousand metric tons): 234
Production of zinc in 2019 (in thousand metric tons): 230