China is the world’s biggest zinc producer, consumer and refine. The country produced 4.93 million tonnes (Mt) of zinc in concentrate in 2012, accounting for 36% of the world total output. China’s 43Mt zinc reserves as of 2013 estimates are world’s second biggest after Australasia, accounting for 17% of the world’s total.
Inner Mongolia, Yunnan, Hunan, Guangxi are the major zinc producing provinces in China, Inner-Mongolia and Yunnan together account for more than half of the country’s zinc reserves. Henan Yuguang Zinc Industry, Northwest Mining and Geology Group Co., Ltd for Nonferrous Metals (NWME), Western Mining, Chihong Zinc and Geranium, and China Nonferrous Metals Company are the leading zinc mining companies, while Zhuzhou and Huludao are the two biggest zinc smelters.
Australia produced 1.54Mt of zinc concentrate in 2012, contributing 11% of the world’s total output. The country also holds the world’s biggest zinc reserves, estimated at 64mt by the end of 2013, accounting for about one quone-quartere world’s total.
The Century mine, operated by MMG, with 500,000t of annual zinc production capacity, in north-west Queensland, is one of the world’s biggest zinc producing mines, but is scheduled for closure in 2015. Other notable zinc producing mines in Australia include Glencore Xstrata’s McArthur River Mine and Mount Isa Mine which together produced 608,400t in 2013.
Peru produced 1.28Mt of zinc concentrate in 2012, accounting for 9% of the world’s total zinc mine output. As of 2013 Peru was estimated to possess 24Mt of zinc reserves, over nine percent of the world’s total.
The Andean Region of Ancash in Northern Peru accounts for the majority of zinc production in the country, while some of the major zinc miners include BHP Billiton, Glencore Xstrata, Teck and Mitsubishi, Volcan, Trevali, Sociedad Minera El Brocal, and Nyrstar.
India’s zinc concentrate output in 2012 stood at 763,707t, accounting for 6% of global production, while reserves were estimated at 11Mt by the end of 2013 accounting for over four percent of the world’s total known zinc reserves.
India’s zinc deposits are mostly concentrated in the state of Rajasthan, which includes the Rampura-Agucha mine with 60.35mt of ore reserves grading at 13.48% zinc and annual ore production capacity of 6.15mt located in the Bhilwara District. Hindustan Zinc, majorly owned by Vedanta Resources and the Government of India, is the principal zinc mining company in the country.
The United States of America produced 738,000t of zinc in concentrates in 2012 accounting for over 5% of the world’s total, while its zinc reserves by the end of 2013 were estimated at 10Mt, accounting for 4% of the world’s total.
The Red Dog mine, owned and operated by a joint venture of Teck and NANA Regional Corporation is the biggest zinc mine in the US contributing for over 70% of the country’s zinc production. The Red Dog mining operation is currently focussed on Aqqaluk Deposit. which was estimated to contain 45.4Mt of probable ore reserves grading at 15.8% zinc. Nyrstar’s MTN mines in Smith County, Tennessee, produced 121,000t of zinc concentrate in 2013, becoming the second biggest zinc mining operation in the US.
Mexico’s zinc mine output in concentrates stood at 660,349t in 2012, accounting for 5% of the world’s total. Mexico’s zinc reserves, estimated at 18Mt by the end of 2013, account for more than 7% of the world’s total known zinc reserve base, making it the fourth biggest after Australia, China and Peru.
Five underground mines, namely Proano, Campo Morado, Guerrero, La Cienega and Penasquito, are the major zinc producers in Mexico, while Fresnillo, Grupo Mexico and Nyrstar are the leading zinc mining companies.
Canada produced 641,260t of zinc in concentrate in 2012, accounting for 5% of the global zinc output, while its zinc reserves were estimated at 7Mt as of 2013, accounting for approximately 3% of the world’s total.
Glencore Xtrata’s Matagami, Perseverance, Kidd and Brunswick mines in Canada together produced 389,000t of zinc concentrates in 2012 but production was lowered by 50% in 2013 as the Brunswick and Perseverance mines reached the end of their mine lives. The Kidd mine produced 67,800t of zinc in 2013 whereas the newly developed Bracemac-Mcleod mine near Matagami/ Perseverance produced 32,900t, and Nyrstar’s Langlois and Myra Falls mines produced 36,000t and 27,000t of zinc respectively.
Kazakhstan produced 425,000t of zinc in concentrate in 2012, accounting for over 3% of the world’s total, and was estimated to contain 10Mt of zinc reserves by the end of 2013, accounting for about four percent of the world’s total known zinc reserves.
The Shalkiya deposit, being developed by Shalkiya Zinc in the Kyzylorda region in southern Kazakhstan, is the biggest known zinc deposit representing about one third of the country’s zinc reserves. Kazzinc, a Glencore Xtrata company that operates Maleevsky, Ridder-Sokolny and Tishinsky mines, produced 216,200t of zinc in 2013 becoming the biggest zinc mining company in Kazakhstan.
Bolivia produced 389,800t of zinc in 2012, accounting for 3% of global output, and was estimated to possess 5.2Mt of zinc in reserves by the end of 2013, accounting for about two percent of the world’s total.
Minera San Cristobal, a subsidiary of Sumitomo, that operates the San Cristobal poly-metallic in the Potosi Department of Bolivia, is the leading zinc producer in Bolivia, and is followed by Glencore Xstrata’s subsidiary Sinchi Wayra which operates four mines in the Oruro and Potosi regions.
Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland is the tenth biggest zinc producer with 337,000t of zinc output in 2012, accounting for about 2% of the world total; zinc reserves by the end of 2013 were estimated to be 1.3Mt.
The Tara mine located at Navan and operated by Boliden and the Vedanta Resources’ Lisheen mine at Tipperary are the two underground zinc producing mines operating in the country. The Tara mine, which is estimated to contain 14Mt of JORC classified ore reserves grading 7.2% zinc, is Europe’s biggest zinc mine, while the Lisheen mine, containing 2.26Mt of ore reserves grading at 11.56% zinc, is expected to reach end of mine life in 2015.