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Zinc - Statistics & Facts

Zinc is a solid transition metal that can be 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 production volume. In the United States, zinc production has remained fairly stable, reaching approximately 780,000 metric tons in 2019. 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.

Zinc reserves and production country comparison

Global zinc reserves are greatest in Australia and China, though the world’s two largest producers of zinc were China and Peru, respectively, in 2019. Despite being the world's eighth largest zinc producer, Canada was the largest zinc exporting country in 2019 based on value, with exports amounting to 1.57 billion U.S. dollars.

Demand and end uses of zinc

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 for human consumption

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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