The two primary minerals containing lead and zinc are galena (PbS) and sphalerite (ZnS). These minerals are often found together alongside other sulphide minerals including copper, iron, arsenic, silver and small quantities of gold. Lead and zinc operations process ore through comminution, beneficiation and possible downstream processes. Processing activities post beneficiation includes the smelting and refining of concentrates to prepare a commercial lead or zinc product.
The main application of lead is in the production of lead-acid storage batteries commonly used in vehicles. Lead has also seen use in a variety of other industries including cable sheathing, pigments, ammunition, and radiation protection. The majority of zinc is used for galvanising other metals to prevent corrosion or rusting. Galvanised steel can then be used in a variety of applications including construction, automobiles and shipbuilding. Zinc is also used in alloying, particularly with copper to form brass, other specialty alloys for use in die and spin casting and specialty zinc compounds.