This report compares estimates of U.S. apparent consumption of lead with estimates of total U.S. consumption of this mineral commodity from a materials flow perspective. The difference, attributed to the amount of lead contained in imported and exported products, was found to be significant for this sector. The study also assesses the effects of including mineral commodities incorporated in manufactured products on the interpretation of observed trends in minerals consumption and trade.
Materials flow is a systems approach to understanding what happens to the materials we use from the time a material is extracted, through its processing and manufacturing, to its ultimate disposition. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides accurate and detailed mineral production and mineral commodity consumption statistics that are essential for government, nongovernment organizations, and the public to gain a better understanding of how and where materials are used and their effect on the environment and society.
Published statistics on mineral apparent consumption are limited to estimates of consumption of raw material forms (ore, concentrate, and [or] refined metal). For this study, apparent consumption is defined as mine production + secondary refined production + imports (concentrates and refined metal) ? exports (concentrates and refined metal) + adjustments for government and industry stock changes. These estimates do not account for the amount of mineral commodities contained in manufactured products that are imported to the United States, nor do they deduct the amount of these mineral commodities contained in manufactured products that are exported from the United States.
When imports or exports of manufactured products contribute significantly to the total use of a particular raw material, an estimate of consumption that does not consider the incorporated forms of these mineral commodities within imported or exported manufactured products can be either under- or overreported (depending on the net trade flow). Factors that influence consumption and trade patterns include variations in industry structure, labor or financial markets, legislation, and technology. As U.S. trade patterns of manufactured products change, omitting mineral commodities incorporated into these goods as part of U.S. mineral commodity consumption estimates may affect the interpretation of observed trends in minerals consumption and trade.
Although it may be desirable to include minerals contained in manufactured products as part of consumption estimates, collection and estimation of these data are sometimes difficult. Consumption and trade data for every traded product may not be readily available. Compiling comprehensive consumption statistics for mineral commodities, which have many end uses, each including multiple products, may be time consuming. For these reasons, studies of all mineral commodities are not feasible. Mineral commodity selection for this study is based on data accessibility considerations and the relative importance of lead contained in imported and exported products when considered part of total U.S. lead consumption.
Lead was selected for this initial evaluation of total mineral consumption because of the need to understand the consumption pattern of this potentially toxic metal and its compounds, the relative simplicity of this sector?s end-use structure, and the availability of trade data. This study draws upon the findings of an earlier lead consumption study (Biviano and others, 1999) conducted by the USGS for the period 1984 to 1993, but uses a different study methodology for an industry whose structure has changed from that considered in the earlier study.
Figure 1 shows the quantity of material contributing to U.S. total consumption of lead metal from domestic and foreign industrial sectors in 2004, based upon trade data reported by the USGS and the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC). For
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Apparent Consumption vs. Total Consumption--A Lead-Acid Battery Case Study