Evolution rather than revolution – time for battery metal lead to show resilience as ICE age draws to an end

Agenda for
5-9 September

Neil Hawkes
Commodity Analyst, CRU
The LME lead price recovery from the depths of the first virus wave in early 2020 has been impressive, if somewhat erratic in nature, reflecting the uneven pandemic exit path around the world. Alongside the broader ‘macro’ recovery in economic activity lifting all LME metal prices, key ‘micro’ lead industry drivers have also played a part. Lead supplies have struggled to keep up with a strong rebound in lead demand, hit by production shortfalls in North America and Europe, with all eyes on Asian supplies, notably China, to come to the rescue.

While the impact of the virus is set to linger for many years to come, last year’s COP26 gathering in Glasgow provided a timely reminder of the longer-term climate change threat and injected fresh urgency to the ‘greening’ of the global economy. One important thread of this transition is vehicle electrification amid a wider energy storage move away from fossil fuels towards renewable power. The resilience of the lead-based battery sector, under threat from the rise of lithium-based batteries; is the key factor that will determine the lead price path in the years ahead. Battery metal lead is not only defending its dominant presence across diverse applications, but also looking to find some growth opportunities ahead. Through this extended evolution, CRU believes that lead is set to play a role in a ‘greener’, more sustainable world. The only uncertainty is how big or small that role will ultimately prove to be.


Neil has been responsible for CRU’s lead market analysis for over 30 years and is the main author of the company’s regular reports on this metal and is a regular speaker at conferences. First founded in 1969, CRU specialises in commodities, delivering global business intelligence across a wide variety of non-ferrous and ferrous metals through analysis, prices, consulting and conferencing.