(28 June 2021) Zinc prices showed 50% growth year-over-year in May 2021, an increase to $2,965 per metric ton from $1,975 in May 2020. The increase followed a two-year decline of 45% from the ten-year high of $3,500 in 2018. The price is currently 11.5% above the 5-year moving average — a figure analysts were not expecting, since zinc demand is declining in the era of COVID-19.

Several key supply and demand drivers are playing a role. The upward price drivers are as follows: 

  • Disruption of zinc concentrate supplies due to the suspension of large zinc mines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Persistent environmental restrictions in China and mine closures and disruptions in other countries
  • Recovery of zinc consumption levels in China, the US, and other countries due to rebounding construction levels. China has been implementing a number of infrastructure projects such as construction of railways, airports, and metro lines.

And the downward price drivers: 

  • Transition of the world zinc market from deficit to surplus; according to investingnews estimates, the surplus of zinc in the world market in 2021 may amount to about 400 thousand tons
  • Recovery of mining at large zinc mines in Peru, Mexico, and Bolivia, among other countries 
  • Increase in zinc mining and production in China due to the gradual replacement and modernization of old zinc-smelting facilities in order to meet new environmental standards. 

Zinc price predictions from the leading international agencies for the next few years are as follows:

  • The World Bank in its commodity forecast report estimated that the average spot price for zinc will fall to $2,400 per metric ton (t) in 2022, down from $2,700/t at the end of 2021. After that, a slow growth period will start.
  • The IMF's report indicated a completely different expectation: a rise from $2,828/t in the end of 2021 to $2,859 in 2022. For the following period, IMF experts expect a smooth, gradual decline. They predict the price will drop to $2,818/t by 2026.
  • The forecast from Industry Innovation and Science Australia (IISA) is more similar to the World Bank's predictions: they expect a decrease in the zinc spot price from $2,686 at the end of 2021 to $2,362 in 2022, with further slow increase through 2026.

Dive deeper into historical commodity prices from the World Bank and IMF, or explore commodity price forecasts. You can also explore a variety of other critical commodities with Knoema, including:

gold | silver | copper | aluminum | nickel | zinc | coal | natural gas | crude oil


As you examine commodity prices and forecasts, you may also be interested in economic forecasts for the G20 countries across the following indicators: GDP growth | inflation | unemployment | government debt | current account balance | external debt.

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