Unexpected Factors That Affect the World’s Metal Markets

Unexpected Factors That Affect the World’s Metal Markets

18th January 2021

Like any commodity, a metal’s price will largely be determined by supply and demand. Yet, there are also some other factors that drive prices that you might not be aware of.

More Electric Bikes Means Lead Gets More Expensive

It used to be that winter in the Northern hemisphere marked the highest lead prices, as many people looked to replace their old car batteries. Lead is a crucial element in acid-lead batteries, so more demand for car batteries means that lead costs more.

Another reason that lead is sought-after arrived in recent years with the electric bike boom, particularly in China, as lead can also be used for their batteries. This might not be the case for much longer, though, as the emergence of lithium-ion bike batteries has meant that the industry doesn’t need as much lead as it did in the recent past.

Aluminium is Too Easy to Find

Aluminium is an important metal because its mixture of strength and low weight makes it ideal for many different applications. This is why you will find this metal in many objects, from cars to buildings and tins of food. It is even more commonly used than several CE accredited fabrications produced in steel.

It is so abundant in the Earth’s crust that over-production leading to falling prices is one of the biggest fears in this industry. Over 8% of the Earth’s crust is made up of aluminium, with nations like China, India and Russia leading the global production rate in the last few years.

Palladium Is a Lot Rarer Than Gold and Depends Upon the Car Industry

Incredibly rare and only found in certain parts of the world, like Russia and South Africa, palladium is typically even more expensive than gold. Annual production of this shiny white metal is only about a 20th of the amount of gold that is mined each year.

The vast majority of palladium is used in catalytic converters for cars. When the price shot up at the start of 2020 it led to a huge increase in the number of catalytic converter thefts reported around the world.

Titanium Dioxide Could Get Banned in Food and Got Caught Up in an International Spying Scandal

You might not have heard much about titanium dioxide but you will have seen it pretty much everywhere. This is a naturally occurring oxide that is widely used as a pigment in the likes of paint, food and toothpastes, as well as in many other applications where a bright white is needed.

China is the world’s biggest producer of this material but their process is said to be less efficient than that used in the US, which led to a spying scandal a few years ago when China was accused of trying to get hold of trade secrets in what an FBI official described as ‘stealing the colour white’. A threat to this material came in 2019, when France announced it would ban its use – as E171 – in food production.