Intro: Base metals are on widely different trajectories. Copper has proven to be the most stable thanks to a more solid forecast for Chinese economic growth and a possible scrap metal ban in the country, which is important as the country accounts for 45 percent of global demand for the brown metal. In July 2017, copper reached US$6,292/t, its highest level in two years. The country’s national copper output increased 28.9 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, zinc finished 2016 as the best-performing commodity on the LME after rising 60 percent but failed to meet the expectations those results set. On the other side, lithium demand is expected to increase thanks to the growing need for renewable-energy solutions and Mexico has several sites under feasibility studies for the metal.

This chapter offers an insider’s perspective into the opportunities and challenges that leading base-metal producers and explorers face.

Key Question: What are the main factors driving the supply and demand of each base metal and how can the country increase its national output of each one?