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Collapsing auto sector a body blow for industrial metals, including nickel

Thesudburystar - France’s Recylex has just announced the temporary closure of both its German lead smelter and two battery-recycling plants, one in Germany and one in France.

The decision is due to a “strong drop in demand, especially in the automotive sector, in a context of sharply lower metal prices,” the company said.

It will surely not be the last lead producer to mothball its production facilities.

Lead is umbilically tied to the automotive sector. Lead-acid batteries account for around 80 per cent of global usage of the metal.

And carmakers just about everywhere have halted their production lines due to the spread of the coronavirus and the lockdowns on activity that have followed in its wake.

Virtually every industrial metal gets used in one form of another in making planes, trains and automobiles.

Particularly the latter. Collapsing automotive production and sales are generating a demand shock that is traveling up the value chain through parts suppliers to metals fabricators and on to metal producers such as Recylex.

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