Zinc hit the headlines last year as supply moved from surplus to deficit. Zinc stocks all over Canada broke out to new highs and extended multi-month runs as zinc demand risinginstitutions began to finance several leading exploration and development names within the sector. With the price of the metal stabilized above US$1 per pound, exploration companies are racing to advance the country’s next potential zinc mine…

In Q4 of 2012, we predicted this rush would come, stating in a Weekly Volume,

“The zinc sector today is one that has under-performed due to a marginal supply surplus. Prior to the surplus ending in the next 12-18 months, we expect a rush to secure assets as zinc’s price is expected to rise significantly. Remember that the last time zinc fell into a deficit its price more than quadrupled. Zinc was trading in the $0.40 range when it began its ascent in the mid 2000s…”


Like almost every commodity, zinc’s demand continues to be driven largely by China. And, while historic demand verticals for zinc are driving up the price amidst falling supply, there are also new applications, including zinc batteries, which could usher in a sustained bull market for years to come…

Zinc Stocks To Rise on Rechargeable Battery Revolution


For the first time in its existence, Zinc has proven beneficial in rechargeable batteries; most noteworthy, and similar to lithium and graphite, it will be a part of the clean energy metal revolution. More on this shortly.

Demand for zinc continues to increase globally, but the dynamics have changed in the past five years. According to the International Lead and Zinc Study Group, worldwide demand for refined zinc increased by 3.5% in 2016. While this increase is not substantial, supply tightened after China reportedly shut down power to 26 zinc and lead mines in the Hunan Province amid safety and environmental concerns last year. More recently, Chinese imports of refined zinc jumped 21% in April to 47,469 tonnes year-over-year. What’s more, shipments of ore and concentrates jumped 44%, according to Chinese customs data. We are not aware of imports rising in China, or elsewhere, for any other commodity by double digits year over year.

zinc market
China reportedly shut down power to 26 zinc and lead mines in the Hunan Province amid safety and environmental concerns in 2016.


China | Not the Only Zinc Producing Nation Closing Mines


Some of the world’s largest and longest running zinc mines have closed in the past 24 months. The most notable Canadian zinc mine to go offline was Glencore’s Brunswick mine. Also, Australia’s Century zinc mine along with Ireland’s Lisheen zinc mine both shuttered last year. In fact, more than 1 million tonnes of zinc production has gone offline since 2013, according to Mining.com. We were early to this, and published Zinc Mines Are Closing Down – Good News for Zinc Stocks way back in October of 2012. It took a few years for the price of zinc to finally respond. However, zinc’s price took off in 2016, when the market officially fell into a supply deficit.

zinc price increase

As it stands, just over one-half of all zinc production is used in galvanized steel to prevent rust or corrosion; zinc galvanizing involves thin layers of zinc being added to iron or steel. Zinc, combined with copper, becomes an alloy in automobiles and electrical components. But for its price to increase from these levels, entirely new applications must drive demand.


Rechargeable Zinc Batteries | The Future of Solar, Smartphones and Transportation?


Rechargeable zinc batteries may revolutionize how we harness clean energy for transportation; furthermore, this same technology may overcome grid-scale energy storage challenges – the X factor for renewable energy to truly compete with fossil fuels…

Stanford engineers may have cracked the code of profitable, renewable energy. Combined, zinc and copper may be the key to providing cheap renewable energy to the world. Bold statement, we know, but just hear us out. As speculators, it’s imperative we are looking to the future as we make investment decisions in the commodity space.


Enter Zinc and a New Battery Design


Eleven months ago, in June of 2016, Stanford engineers created arrays of silicon nanocones to trap sunlight and improve the performance of solar cells. At the core of this novel technology is zinc…

In the June 6, 2016 edition of Nature Communications, Yi Cui, associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and Shougo Higashi, a visiting scientist from Toyota Central R&D Labs Inc., proposed a new battery design that could help solve the problem of grid-scale energy storage. The study resulted in the creation of a novel battery with electrodes made of zinc and nickel. The batteries, made with inexpensive metals have the potential for grid-scale storage – enthusiasm was understandably high.

In relation to this development, a Stanford article reported,


“A variety of zinc-metal batteries are available commercially, but few are rechargeable, because of tiny fibers called dendrites that form on the zinc electrode during charging. Theses dendrites can grow until they finally reach the nickel electrode, causing the battery to short circuit and fail.

The research team solved the dendrite problem by simply redesigning the battery. Instead of having the zinc and nickel electrodes face one another, as in a conventional battery, the researchers separated them with a plastic insulator and wrapped a carbon insulator around the edges of the zinc electrode.”

zinc batteries
Stanford scientists redesigned the battery (right) using plastic and carbon insulators to prevent zinc dendrites from reaching the cathode. (Image credit: Shougo Higashi)



Higashi, the lead author of the study, explained, “With our design, zinc ions are reduced and deposited on the exposed back surface of the zinc electrode during charging.”

And that,

“Therefore, even if zinc dendrites form, they will grow away from the nickel electrode and will not short the battery.”

The ability to recharge is not a fluke; rather, the researchers have successfully charged and discharged the battery more than 800 times without shorting. Cui concluded that,

“Our design is very simple and could be applied to a wide range of metal batteries.”


If we witness wide adoption of this battery, zinc will move to the fore as a critical component of the clean energy revolution. Investors may soon have an entirely new reason to buy producers and explorers of the metal…


Move over Lithium and Graphite | Zinc to Arrive as Clean Energy Metal


To date, investors have been hearing about lithium, graphite and even nickel in many batteries, but not zinc. While our research for this article began weeks ago, our suspicions were recently confirmed in an article from Fortune. The article titled, A Battery Made From Metal and Air Is Electrifying the Developing World, confirms zinc-based batteries are already functioning commercially.


An Arizona-based alternative energy company has developed a battery that stores electricity through a combination of metal and air. The Fortune article explains,

“Fluidic Energy makes a specific type of metal air battery called a zinc-air battery. Zinc, which is abundant and low cost, is the key material that sits in the electrolyte of their battery and moves onto the anode during charging and discharging.

“Fundamentally zinc is the lowest cost winner for energy storage,” says Fluidic Energy’s CEO Steve Scharnhorst during an interview with Fortune in San Francisco last month. Zinc has been used in batteries for years (like button batteries for hearing aids), but many of these zinc batteries haven’t been able to be recharged. Once the energy stored in them is used up, they’re kaput.

That was one of the key breakthroughs that Fluidic Energy’s early team worked on: making a zinc battery that can be recharged.”


Similar to the scientists from Stanford and Toyota Central R&D Labs, it appears zinc batteries have proven to be rechargeable.

Unlike many science projects still in the lab, and hoping to make that breakthrough or prove real world application, Fluidic Energy has done it. Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, the long since start-up has raised $200 million in the past decade to grow its business. Proof adoption is rising can be seen in a deal inked last year with Caterpillar. Furthermore, the company has deployed 75,000 batteries at 1,200 sites worldwide.

If Fluidic Energy’s zinc-air battery takes off, the entire narrative for zinc investment could change quickly. For a case study in what could happen, look back at lithium plays in late-2015…

Science Challenges Feed Renewable Energy Growth


Science challenges are breaking out around the world as nations work to build out the next sustainable energy storage system. The latest is “Can Bright Minds solve 100% Renewable Energy?” The hashtag #BrightMindsChallenge was trending for months. The most interesting competing company we found?

Cumulus Energy Storage, which claims to be able to use copper and zinc to deliver and store renewable energy globally, explains,

“We’re developing low-cost electricity super-storage batteries that make renewables work. Using 200 year old Copper/Zinc battery technology invented by Volta, we’ve inserted a membrane between the Copper and Zinc electrodes to make the battery rechargeable and suitable for the stationary energy storage market.”


Sound familiar? Here is where it gets interesting… according to Science Can Change the World,


“Applications ranging from time-shifting commercial renewables generation, to more efficient transmission and distribution networks, plus improved energy management of electricity intensive industries. Key benefits include a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) the same or lower than that of pumped hydro (which is 96% of the global energy storage market today); delivering renewable electricity at the time it is needed by charging over 4-6 hours and discharging over the same timeframe; 99.5% recyclability; room temperature operation; 30 year asset life due to maintainability and 80% round trip efficiency (ac/ac); in short a battery designed for the high energy long duration market – the missing link for renewables.”


On Cumulus’ website it explains,

“Using chemistries and architectures already used for 50 years in the mining industry at ~100 MWh scale equivalent, we have developed a rechargeable Copper/Zinc battery that is safe, reliable and sustainable, and offers class-leading Total Cost of Ownership to our customers.”


Zinc Batteries to Lead Renewable Energies


A practical and disruptive technology indeed. To our knowledge Cumulus Energy has yet to commercialize its findings. However, what Cumulus represents is the never ending innovation that is leading the clean energy revolution. If not Cumulus Energy, it will be the next innovator. Renewable energy is gaining momentum and zinc is going to find its way into more batteries every year. It will take time, but an inflection point or shift is coming as demand for new technologies outweighs conventional verticals.

rechargeable zinc batteries
Could we see zinc in smartphone batteries?



We believe zinc will eventually step to the fore of this renewable energy revolution as a primary product in batteries. And so will go many zinc exploration and development stocks.

All the best with your investments,




* Article from IEEE Spectrum: Zinc Battery Breakthrough Could Mean Safer, Lighter Cars and Smartphones