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Global copper market sees 33,000 mt surplus in January: ICSG

The global refined copper market showed a small surplus of 33,000 mt in January, largely due to an increase in mine production, analysts with the International Copper Study Group said .

ICSG analysts in a report estimated that world mine production in January rose nearly 3.5% compared with January 2017 to 1.716 million mt, with concentrate production rising by 3.7% and solvent extraction-electrowinning (SX-EW) output growing 3%.

“The increase in world mine production, which amounted to 60,000 mt of copper, was mainly due to a 6% rise in Chile, the world’s biggest copper mine producing country, where concentrate output increased by 9% [and] SX-EW production remaining essentially unchanged,” the Lisbon-based research firm said.

The increase was also due to a recovery in SX-EW production in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, as well as higher production in Indonesia and China.

“Although no major supply disruptions occurred in January, overall growth was partially offset by lower output at some mines in Canada (down 11%), Peru (down 4%) and the United States (down 12%),” the ISCSG added.

On a regional basis, mine production is estimated to have increased by around 15% in both Africa and Asia, 3% in Europe, and remained essentially unchanged in the Americas and Oceania.


World refined copper production rose by an estimated 5.2% year on year in January to 2.051 million mt, with primary production rising 5.3% to 1.684 million mt and secondary production from scrap increasing 5% to 367,000 mt.

China was the main contributor to the growth in refined production at 8% due to continued expansion of its capacity, the ICSG said.

Production in Indonesia and Japan was also substantially higher after recovering from constrained output last year due to a strike and a maintenance shutdown.

Increases in SX-EW output in the DRC and Zambia also contributed to world refined production growth.

But overall growth was partially offset by 0.5% and 8% declines in refined production in Chile and in the US, respectively.

On a regional basis, refined output is estimated to have increased in Africa (14%), Asia (8.5%) and Europe (2%) while declining in the Americas (3.5%).


World refined usage rose an estimated 5.5% to 2.018 million mt from 1.912 million mt in January 2017.

China was the biggest contributor to growth, with apparent usage (excluding changes in unreported stocks) increasing by around 9%, fueled by an 8% increase in refined production and 6% increase in net refined copper imports, ICSG analysts said.

Preliminary data indicates that world ex-China usage is understood to have increased by 1.9%.

Among other major copper using countries, usage increased in India, Japan and the EU, but declined in the United States and South Korea, the ICSG said.

Source: Platts

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