Zinc - Statistics & Facts

Published by M. Garside, Nov 2, 2018
Zinc is a solid transition metal found in the air, water, flora, fauna, and in humans. However, most zinc is mined from the earth’s crust. The majority of zinc mining occurs underground but this method of production generates just over half of the total volume. In the United States, zinc production has remained fairly stable, reaching approximately 730 thousand metric tons in 2017. As zinc ores contain small concentrations of zinc, they must often be crushed for optimal separation from other minerals. There are several processes to obtain more zinc concentrates, such as roasting and sintering for zinc blende or the pyrometallurgical process.

Global zinc reserves are greatest in Australia and China, though the world’s two largest producers of zinc were China and Peru, respectively, in 2017.

The global demand for zinc has decreased since 2010, when there was a noticeable increase since the great recession. Zinc is used for different industrial processes and materials, but approximately half of the global mined zinc is used to galvanize steel. The metal can be used as an anti-corrosion agent, in chemicals, and as semi-manufactures. Zinc is often used as part of an alloy, especially in combination with copper as brass. The feasibility for using recycled or secondary zinc is increasing and depends highly on the collection rate of products containing zinc at the end of their life cycle.

Zinc is an essential mineral for humans to consume, and zinc deficiency impacts many people living in the developing world. Dietary supplements for zinc can be taken for deficiencies. A lack of this mineral is associated with many diseases but over-consumption may also cause other human health conditions, such as copper deficiency.

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