Zinc is usually found in mineral deposits that include copper, lead, iron and other base metals. Its primary ore is sphalerite, which accounts for about 95 percent of zinc produced worldwide. China is the largest zinc producer, followed by Peru, Australia, India and the United States.
About half of all the zinc produced is used for galvanizing or coating iron or steel to prevent rust. Zinc is alloyed with copper to make brass and with other metals to make alloys used in electrical systems, household fixtures and automobiles. Zinc is also used as a white pigment in paints and is an ingredient in fire retardants, rubber, skin ointments, lasers and dietary supplements.