Price of lead goes crazy

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The price of lead keeps rising like a helium balloon, setting new records almost every week and weighing heavy on the minds of battery manufacturers.
"It's unbelieveable," said Wayne Merdinger, director of marketing for MK Battery in Anaheim, Calif. "It's really a significant issue for anyone involved in power mobility. Lead represents 65% of the cost of the battery."
On June 27, the price of lead hit $2,518.5 per metric ton. That compares to $2,000 a metric ton in late February and roughly $500 a ton in early 2004 (See HME News, April 2007). That steep increase makes it very difficult for battery manufacturers not to pass on some of the pain to customers because "at the end of the day, we have to make a profit," Merdinger said.
Conditions that have fueled the run-up in lead prices include: increased demand from China; shortfalls at a number of major lead producing mines and shipping delays; shortages of refined lead supplies in Europe; and environmental issues that have slowed production.
"I wish I could say that prices are going to stabilize," Merdinger said. "We've been saying that for a couple of years: Surely lead prices can't go much higher."