Facts about Lead

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Chemical and Physical Properties

Chemical Symbol Pb (plumbum)
Atomic Number 82
Chemical Series Poor metals
Atomic mass 207.2
Density 11340 kg/m3
Appearance Bluish white
Melting Point 327 °C
Boiling Point 1749 °C
Heat of Vaporisation 177.7 kJ/mol
Heat of Fusion 4.8 kJ/mol
Specific Heat Capacity        129 J/(kg.K)
Electrical conductivity 4.81 MS/m
Thermal conductivity 35.3W/(m.K)

Notable Characteristics

Lead has a bright lustre and is a dense, ductile, very soft, highly malleable, bluish-white metal that has poor electrical conductivity. It is also highly resistant to corrosion and because of this property is used to contain corrosive liquids (e.g. sulphuric acid).


Humans have used lead for at least 7,000 years mainly because deposits containing lead are widespread and it is easy to extract and work with. Lead was mentioned in the book of Exodus. Alchemists thought that lead was the oldest metal and associated it with the planet Saturn. Lead pipes bearing the insignia of Roman emperors are the symbol in service today in some countries. Lead’s symbol Pb is an abbreviation of its Latin name plumbum. The English word plumbing also derives from this Latin root.


Lead is usually found in ore with zinc, silver and copper and is extracted together with these metals. The main lead mineral is galena (PbS). Other common varieties include cerussite (PbCO3) and angelsite (PbSO4).

Lead Statistics

Zinc and lead are the two most widely used non-ferrous metals after aluminium and copper and are vital materials in everyday life.

ILZSG monthly data is listed below. Detailed information on lead and zinc supply, demand, trade, stocks and prices are available on the Group's 68 page monthly 'Lead and Zinc Statistical Bulletin'. For further information please select 'Publications' from the main menu.

World Refined Lead Supply and Usage 2005 - 2010
000 tonnes 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2009 2010 2009/2010
  Jan-Feb Nov Dec Jan Feb
Mine Production 3423 3525 3626 3890 4014 524 544 362.4 382.6 280.6 263.6
Metal Production 7624 7935 8126 8653 8820 1338 1387 766.1 786.5 717.6 669.2
Metal Usage 7786 8063 8182 8648 8757 1277 1377 763.7 789.5 714.7 662.5

Source: International Lead and Zinc Study Group http://www.ilzsg.org.