In spite of its potential health effects, lead is still a valuable commodity. After a dip during the commodities slump of 2015, the price of lead has rebounded, generally staying above 2,000 U.S. dollars per metric ton, or 115 U.S. dollars per pound in the North American market in 2018. The United States consistently produces a volume of over 300 thousand tons of lead per year, while exhibiting an increased import reliance on the metal. This reliable demand makes lead an attractive investment. Returns on lead investments were negative in 2018, but positive (and high) in the two years before that.
These attractive returns bring several major companies into the lead mining industry. Glencore, Doe Run, and Teck are the major lead producing companies, accounting for a total production of over 600 thousand metric tons in 2017. Doe Run is the main contributor to the 400 thousand metric tons of exports of lead from the United States in 2015.
Lead is also recyclable. Not only does the secondary lead recycled from scrap reduce the necessity of mining, it also ensures that scrap lead is less likely to cause negative health effects when it is discarded.