As the government tightens environmental standards this year, the majority of China’s privately-owned zinc mines have seen their operations temporarily mothballed or shut down despite the lucrative prices for the metal.
Zinc remains one of the London Metal Exchange's top performers this year, up over 20% after surpassing the 2007 high to reach $3,302 per tonne on October 4. Although zinc prices are at their highest level in ten years
, mines from the world’s top zinc producing country have not been able to share a slice of the pie by increasing production and filling the supply gap.
Instead, China’s mined zinc output has headed in the opposite direction, declining 7.4% or 185,100 tonnes year on year to 2.33 million tonnes in the first half of 2017, according to World Bureau of Metal Statistics. China accounts for approximately 40% of the world’s total mined zinc production.