Lead is a metal widely used in industry. It is used in electronics, construction, chemical industry and many other areas. However, the greatest use of lead is typically in the automotive industry, in particular in the battery making. Refined lead and lead alloys are a key component of a lead-acid battery design.
The total production of refined lead in Poland is approx. 160 thousand tons per year. There are five producers of refined lead in Poland. In addition to Orzeł Biały, these are KGHM (Huta Miedzi Legnica or Copper Smelter Legnica), Huta Cynku Miasteczko Śląskie (Zinc Smelter), Baterpol and ZAP Sznajder Batterien. KGHM and Huta Cynku Miasteczko Śląskie produce lead from primary raw materials (lead ore) while remaining businesses are involved in recycling and recovering lead from secondary materials. The share of Orzeł Biały in the Polish market is more than 40%.
The market share of Orzeł Biały:
The primary smelters predominantly produce soft lead quality of 99.99 (Pb0) and 99.985 (Pb1) which are used to produce lead powders and lead oxide powders and, to a smaller extent, lead alloys.
Secondary lead manufacturers (including Orzeł Biały) produce mainly soft lead categories 99.97 (Pb2), calcium and antimony alloys used mainly for the production of battery plates, terminals, connectors, and other battery components.
Due to the location of Poland in the centre of the Central European automotive industry and the proximity to many automobile companies and their suppliers including battery manufacturers, alloys produced in Poland are shipped to customers located throughout the region. Considering the fact that accumulators and batteries are consumable parts and must be replaced every few years, the demand for lead alloys is not completely dependent on the condition of the automotive industry and the demand for new cars.