Zinc: THE ESSENTIAL METAL FOR A MODERN WORLD

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What is Zinc

Zinc is the 24th most abundant element in the Earth's crust. It naturally exists in the air, water, soil, and the biosphere. Most rocks and many minerals, as well as humans, plants, and animals, contain zinc in varying amounts. In fact, approximately 5.8 million tons of zinc are naturally cycled through the environment annually by plant and animal life, rainfall, natural phenomena, and other activity.

Zinc is also common and essential to all life. All living things from the tiniest micro-organisms to humans require zinc to live as it helps with specific metabolic processes. Additionally, zinc is found in a number of products we use daily such as cosmetics, tires, cold remedies, baby creams to prevent diaper rash, treatments for sunburns, and sunscreens. In fact, zinc oxide blocks more UV rays than any other single ingredient used in sunscreen. (Source: American Galvanizers Association).

One of zinc’s most exceptional qualities is its natural capacity to protect steel from corrosionWhen left unprotected, steel will corrode in almost any environment. Zinc coatings protect steel by providing a physical barrier as well as cathodic protection for the underlying steel.

Main Uses of Zinc

According to the American Galvanizers Association, more than 11 million tons of zinc are consumed annually worldwide. There are a number of uses for zinc, with zinc metal being the largest and most common. In fact, fifty percent of the annual production, or approximately 5.5 million tons of zinc, is used for galvanizing to protect steel from corrosion. Approximately 4% is consumed in compounds such as zinc oxide and zinc sulfate which are converted into a broad range of consumer products. The remainder is used in other zinc base alloys (brass) and chemicals.

  • To galvanize steel or iron, which is to apply a zinc coating or hot-dipping to prevent rusting (i.e. galvanized steel is used in buildings, cars, white goods and electronics)

  • In production of die casts for industrial uses (i.e. for the production of car or machine parts)

  • To make brass and bronze

  • In production of Zinc Batteries

  • In components of Solar Cells & Electric Vehicles

  • Agriculture: to increase crop yields and crop quality

  • Human Health: Zinc is an essential nutrient in human development and disease prevention

  • Zinc oxide: to produce rubber

  • Zinc sulphide: used in X-ray screens, optics, and as pigments

The approximate breakdown of the use of zinc annually:

  • 50% Galvanizing

  • 17% Die-casting

  • 17% Brass & Bronze

  • 6% Rolled Zinc

  • 6% Chemicals

  • 4% Miscellaneous

 

Global Zinc Value Chain & Markets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources: Nexa Resources S.A., WoodMackenzie

Global Zn Value Chain - Nexa - Feb 2021

Our Scotia Mine Zinc Concentrates

The zinc concentrates to be produced from the Scotia Mine are considered to be of high quality capable of being used in all these applications.

Industrial booms and increased uses of Green Energy will generate significant increases in the world-wide consumption of zinc.

Green Energy

We are experiencing an increase in global demand for clean energy generation driven by growth in:

  • rechargeable batteries

  • energy storage

  • vehicle electrification

  • renewable energy

that will ensure significant growth and demand for metals linked to Green Energy and electrification.

The number of electric vehicles globally is set to rise from approximately 2 million today to over 140 million by 2030, an increase of 7,000% in the next ten years (and expected to rise to 900 million by 2050) (Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Cobalt 27).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Durability

One of zinc’s most exceptional qualities is its natural capacity to protect steel from corrosion. When left unprotected, steel will corrode in almost any environment. Zinc coatings protect steel by providing a physical barrier as well as cathodic protection for the underlying steel.

Galvanizing these steels guarantees they will last, while adding only a fraction of a percent to the cost of the vehicle.

High-strength, light-weight steels for automotive body panels enable significant fuel and emissions savings.

Zinc Batteries

Zinc batteries have been used for many decades. Zinc-carbon batteries are the longest established primary battery type and are in applications such as remote controls, flashlights, toys and electronics. Zinc-chloride batteries are an improved version of the zinc-carbon cells; they have a longer life and a steadier voltage output. Button cell zinc-air batteries are used in hearing aids, calculators and watches. More on Zinc batteries here. 

Health

Among all the vitamins and minerals, zinc shows the greatest effect on our immune system according to the International Zinc Association. Zinc helps fight infections and can even reduce the duration and severity of the common cold.

Zinc also enhances memory and thinking by interacting with other chemicals to send messages to the sensory brain center. Zinc can also reduce fatigue and mood swings. Zinc is vital for taste and smell; it is needed for the renewal of skin cells; and it helps keep our hair and nails healthy.

10 Facts You Should Know About Zinc:

Zn Fact | 1: Zinc is a natural part of our environment, required by all living things for survival.

Zn Fact | 2: Zinc is vital to healthy growth and brain development; strengthens the immune system and helps fight infection.

Zn Fact | 3: Zinc can be recycled economically and without loss of its physical properties.  This intrinsic value helps ensure collection and recovery.

Zn Fact | 4: Protecting steel against corrosion is the most important market for zinc, representing 60% of zinc use worldwide.

Zn Fact | 5: Zinc is a $40 Billion per year market and is the fourth-most used metal worldwide, behind iron, aluminum, and copper.

Zn Fact | 6: The world is naturally abundant in zinc, and resources are available to meet future demand for many generations.

Zn Fact | 7: When added to fertilizers, zinc contributes to food security by increasing crop yields and nutrition quality.

Zn Fact | 8: From household fixtures to automotive components, zinc die castings positively impact our lives on a daily basis.

Zn Fact | 9: From solar cells to sunscreens, and a thousand products in between, zinc chemicals play a critical role in modern society.

Zn Fact | 10: The United Nations has labelled zinc a ‘Life Saving Commodity,’ and 200,000 childhood deaths could be prevented every year with increased access to zinc.

International Zinc Association: 2020 Annual Report

Sources: International Zinc Association, American Galvanizers Association, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, WoodMackenzie, ZinCo Canada Inc, Nexa Resources S.A., Teck Resources Limited, Glencore

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