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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook metals, minerals, and fuels 1972
Year 1972, Volume 1 (1972)

Ryan, J. Patrick
Lead,   pp. 695-725 ff. PDF (3.0 MB)


Page 695

  695Lead 
By J. Patrick Ryan1 
 World production and consumption of lead reached record levels and achieved
a near balance in 1972. Free world mine production increased about 1% with
most of the net gain coming from the United States and Peru. Refined lead
production was up nearly 2% with most of the major producing countries contributing
to the increase. Consumption of metal rose 4%, the largest annual increase
since 1969. The near balance between metal production and consumption brought
relatively stable world market prices, particularly in the London Metal Exchange
(LME) quotation. The average LME cash price published by Metals Week in terms
of U.S. currency increased from 11.40 cents per pound in January to 14.51
cents in March, and generally declining thereafter to 13.98 cents in December.
The average equivalent LME price in 1972 was 13.68 cents. The average U.S.
producers' price after rising 1.6 cents to 15.60 cents in the first 5 months
trended lower thereafter to 14.50 cents in December. The average domestic
price of lead on a nationwide delivered basis in 1972 was 15.03 cents per
pound. 
 The domestic lead industry again achieved significant gains in both mine
production and consumption. Refinery production also increased continuing
the rising trend of recent years after a falloff in 1971, which was attributed
to a reduction in imports of crude materials for processing at domestic plants.
Both mine and refinery production of lead reached the highest levels since
1929 with respective gains of about 7% over 1971 output. The 40,360-ton net
increase in domestic mine output was achieved as gains in Missouri and Colorado
more than offset declines in Idaho and Utah. Secondary lead output of 616,600
tons, representing about 39% of the market supply, was nearly 20,000 tons
more than the 1971 output. The apparent domestic supply of lead consisting
of pri 
mary, secondary, and imports (table 1) 
amounted to 1.57 million tons, 104,000 tons 
more than that of 1971. 
 Demand for lead in transportation uses continued to grow as requirements
for batteries and gasoline antiknock compounds increased 7% and 5%, respectively.
The quantity of lead used in battery manufacture reached a record high, and
lead used in antiknock additives was only slightly below the record achieved
in 1970. Lead used in pigments, reversing a 3-year decline, increased 10%
in 1972. Of the total lead consumption of 1.48 million tons, batteries accounted
for 49%; antiknock compounds, 19%; ammunition, 6%; pigments, 6%; and solder,
5%. 
 Stocks of refined and antimonial lead at primary plants increased from 52,190
tons at the beginning of the year to 64,500 tons at yearend. Consumer and
secondary stocks declined from 125,600 tons at the beginning of the year
to 118,500 tons at yearend. Commercial sales and transfers for government
use, totaling about 49,800 tons, reduced the uncommitted government stockpile
of lead to 1,077,600 tons at yearend. 
 St. Joe Minerals Corp. dosed its Federal mine in October after 50 years
of continuous operation thus phasing out mining operations in the Old Lead
Belt of Southeast Missouri. 
 Legislation and Government Programs. 
—Commercial sales of surplus lead by General Services Administration
(GSA) from the Government stockpile and transfers for government use totaled
49,825 tons in 1972 compared with only 12 tons in 1971. The disposals were
authorized under Public Laws 91—46 and 89—9. Public Law 92—356
enacted on July 26 authorized 
498,000 tons for disposal; 100,000 tons was authorized earlier under Public
Law 91—46. 
 1 Mining engineer, Division of Nonferrous Metals. 


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