Business Profiles Featured

International Zinc Association: Zinc – Crucial for Modern Life

Dedicated to championing the interests of zinc and its users across the world, the International Zinc Association (IZA) works to bring together key players in the industry and promote the use of zinc to create a more sustainable future. It is the only organisation which is solely dedicated to the interest of zinc and its users, and so works to provide a forum for the zinc industry to develop through analysis, representation, regulation, and advocacy across the global industry. Therefore, through its operations across the globe, IZA is working to sustain the long-term global demand for zinc by focusing its efforts on three areas: sustainability and environmentalism, technology and market development, and communication. 

Made up of a range of mining and refining companies, all of which have a representative on IZA’s board of directors, the Association bring together key players across the industry to foster an environment of communication and cooperation. The Association works with its full, affiliate and associate members across the globe via its offices in China, Europe, Latin America, North America, India, and Southern Africa. IZA is on a mission to lead the global zinc industry through coordination and add value to strategic issues to develop the industry on local, regional, and global levels. These industries and markets include automotive, energy storage, fertilisers and food security, infrastructure, and renewable energy – all of which use zinc in their end markets. However, zinc is also used in die-casting alloys, coatings, chemicals, and sheet forms. Therefore, IZA is working to grow these markets and develop them towards the future of zinc demands, whilst advocating for the adoption of zinc products across more industries.   

We have seen the world shift towards more sustainable solutions, with currently 20% of the world’s energy coming from renewable energy resources. These renewable energy sources include solar panels and wind turbines, both of which use zinc to protect the structures and help to prevent rust through zinc galvanising. Therefore, IZA’s work across the zinc industry plays a vital role in the global shift towards a more sustainable future. The Association is working towards a future of ‘net zero’, and so advocates for the implementation of change in the zinc industry both in its operations to process the material and in the adoption of zinc in renewable energy solutions. Zinc, consequently, will continue to play a key role in supporting clean energy technologies in the future.   

Key zinc markets which are working towards a sustainable future are automobiles and batteries. Zinc is used in automobile production for its use in producing high-strength galvanized steel for manufacturing. This was a successful project in 2022, with IZA’s Galvanizes Autobody Partnership programme which brings partners from the steel and automotive industries together to achieve combined success. The project focused on the use of zinc in galvanized auto bodies in India and China where current usage is approximately 20% and 50% respectively, compared to almost 50% usage in its North American and European counterparts.  

Currently, most automakers have adopted galvanized steel for their high-volume production of internal combustion hybrid and electric vehicle models. Therefore, IZA is working to continue to promote the use of zinc in automobile markets by working with its members and automobile manufacturers to meet the current demand for zinc in vehicles and promote it to more manufacturers worldwide.   

Another key industry for zinc that develops the world towards a more sustainable future is batteries. The demand for batteries across the energy and transport sectors, as they move towards a future of decarbonisation, has grown exponentially. Zinc batteries provide flexible, long cycle life, high specific energy, and power, whilst having a wider operating temperature and regime. Additionally, they require minimal upkeep to maintain high performance and safety. Furthermore, IZA is keen to promote zinc batteries as they provide lower-cost products compared to other battery options making them a great alternative compared to the more commonly used lithium batteries. However, the benefits don’t just end there as they are non-toxic, made from abundant and inexpensive materials, all of which are sourced from diverse and reliable supply chains. However, IZA is working to diversify the market away from solely lithium batteries as, at present, most funding and supply comes from lithium technology rather than zinc. However, IZA saw great success in 2020 with its Technology Market Development (TMD) project which made significant strides in raising the much-needed awareness of zinc battery technology for long-duration energy storage applications. Furthermore, IZA has established a Zinc Battery Initiative (ZBI) which has attracted 5 new members, and now includes most of the world’s zinc battery producers under the IZA’s umbrella.  

However, through the Association’s advocacy for zinc across the globe by working with and helping develop the industry with its members, IZA has established itself as a global leader in the zinc industry and its economic development. However, this is not the only role that IZA plays in the zinc industries, as they are actively working to end zinc deficiencies across the globe. Zinc deficiency is a significant health problem in developing countries especially for young children. Roughly 2 billion people are classified as zinc deficient, which can lead to a weakened immune system making those with this deficiency more susceptible to other illnesses. This is particularly prevalent in young children, affecting over 140 million children under 5 and leading to 450,00 fatalities every single year from zinc deficiency-related issues.  

Therefore, IZA has implemented an initiative to address zinc deficiency by supporting zinc supplementation programs in partnership with UNICEF. Together the organisations are working to support global micronutrient supplementation programs which focus critically on zinc deficiencies in at-risk children. As the United Nations labelled zinc as a ‘life-saving commodity’, it is clear to see the crucial role it plays in the well-being of thousands of children across the globe. Therefore, IZA’s work toward the well-being of children worldwide highlights the larger role it plays in developing and supporting a world for a prosperous, healthy, and sustainable future.  

As an overarching association comprised of key figures throughout the world’s zinc industry, IZA is working to promote the interests of zinc in every aspect, whether that be from manufacturing, advocacy or from implementing initiatives towards the well-being of people and the planet. They are working tirelessly to lead the industry, coordinate efforts for development and continue to add value to markets. As part of this, they are providing crucial licensing for operating in the global zinc industry and establishing key platforms for communication between these global partners all with the combined goal of positioning zinc as a leading resource worldwide for sustainable, profitable, and reliable development.