Global silver mine production is estimated to have declined by 2.4% to 849.7 million ounces (moz) in 2020, the fourth consecutive annual decrease, partly owing to lockdowns and restrictions at top silver-producing countries, particularly Peru, Mexico and China. In addition, depleting ore reserves have been a major concern for the industry in the recent years.
After two consecutive years of flat growth, mainly due to lower ore grades and the production disruptions, the impact of COVID-19 on mining operations led to global copper production declining by 2.6% to 20.1Mt in 2020.
After falling by an estimated 6% in 2020, the capital expenditure of 20 leading miners is expected to rise by 23% in 2021 to reach US$58bn. This will be the highest point since 2015 and will be supported by both higher sustaining capex and greater development project expenditure after deferrals from 2020 due to COVID-19.
Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), based in Australia, saw a strong momentum in 2020, while many businesses around the world suffered greatly and others permanently shut their doors, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions implemented by the governments.
Global lead production is expected to decline by 5.2% to 4.5 million tonnes (Mt) in 2020. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in late December 2019 significantly impacted the mining industry in the first half of 2020, and continues to do so.