Global Extraction Production And Consumption

As a background to the discussion on metal cycles in the anthroposhpere of defined geographical areas (chapter 3) and on metal fluxes from society to the environment (chapter 4), it was felt pertinent to give a brief overview of the latest developments in the global metal mining activities as well as the metal consumption patterns. The principle feature in the production of base metals since the mid-1990s is a less dynamic development than earlier, and the overall demand - particularly for Zn and Cu - has stagnated. The lack of correspondence between production and demand for most base metals, illustrated by the build-up of considerable stocks, has resulted in stagnating or falling metal prices at least up till the end of2002, maybe with the exception for Ni.

The levels and trends in primary and secondary production, as well as in consumption, of copper, nickel and zinc up to 1995-96 were described in the previous monographs (L & L - Zn, L & L - Cu and EW - Cr,Ni,Mo). After the middle of the 1990s, the production volume of the three metals has developed in a less dynamic way than before, and the supply of metals has not closely followed the demand on the world market. While copper production has continued to rise over the last 3-4 years at a rate of almost 4% yearly, the growth of nickel has lately shown a certain stagnation. Zinc production has grown much more than the current demand, which in fact decreased by 1% in 2001, before returning to growth in 2002. This lack of balance between supply and demand has resulted in the build-up of considerable stocks and in declining prices.

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