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Lead is an important strategic and critical metal because of the dependency of both military and civilian activities on the stored energy provided by lead-acid batteries. In terms of tonnage use, lead ranks only after aluminum, copper, and zinc among the nonferrous metals. Its major uses are in storage batteries, as an antiknock additive in gasoline, and in materials for the construction and metalworking industries. Other uses include ammunition, protective coatings and paints, radiation shielding, and electrical cable sheathing. An estimated 75% of its ultimate end use is in the transportation sector, in applications that make it less susceptible to recession than most other metals. These applications include starting-lighting-ignition batteries for replacements as well as original equipment, traction batteries for industrial electrical vehicles, leaded gasoline, solders and bearing alloys for motors and railroad journals, electronic components, electric motor and wheel balancing and other ballast applications, and terne metal for fuel tanks. This Bureau of Mines report presents comprehensive data on lead including strategic considerations, problems, technology trends and developments, reserves-resources, supply-demand relationships, economic factors and problems, operating factors and problems, and outlook to 2000.
Page last reviewed: May 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division