Global lead reserves 2010-2022
Australia has the world’s largest lead reserves, amounting to 37 million metric tons as of 2022. Lead is a naturally occurring element that is soft and malleable. It is a post-transition metal that is very dense and is easily tarnished to a dull grey color. Lead’s use by humans dates back to 7000-6500 BCE, first found in modern day Anatolia. Ancient Egyptians first used it in cosmetics, and likely used the metal in glasses, enamels, and as weights for fishing nets as well. In recent decades, however, the use of lead has decreased as prolonged exposure can cause negative health effects. In spite of these concerns, it is still considered a valuable commodity. Today lead remains commonly used in car batteries, pigments, lifting weights, and ammunition.