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Zinc price jumps as Glencore cuts production in Italy

Metal parts being treated with zinc coating. (Stock Image)

The zinc price rose on Monday as Glencore Plc announced it’s preparing to shut down production in Italy.

The Portovesme line, which can produce 100,000 tonnes of zinc sulphide a year, will be put on care and maintenance by the end of the year.

The decision to close the plant follows a sharp increase in power prices in Italy and the rest of Europe, Glencore said.

Zinc prices rose as much as 3.4% to $3,349.50 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange, the biggest gain in a month. 

Zinc production had already been hit hard, with supply cuts announced by Trafigura Group, Nyrstar and Glencore sending prices surging 13% in October. 

zinc price

Click here for an interactive chart of zinc prices

Global zinc production is estimated at about 14 million tonnes this year, with about half of that expected to come from China, the world’s largest producer.

The metal is mainly used to galvanise steel or iron by applying a zinc coating to stop rusting. Galvanised steel is used in buildings, cars and electronics. 

Fitch Solutions forecasts an average zinc price of $2,600 per tonne in 2021.

“The global production surplus that emerged in 2020 should persist into the medium term, and the resulting increase of zinc inventories should gradually drag prices lower,” the analyst said in a recent report.

(With files from Reuters and Bloomberg)