Global copper mine and concentrate production both marginally decreased by 0.6pc and 0.5pc, respectively, between January and November 2019. According to preliminary data by the International Copper Study Group (ICSG), solvent extraction-electrowinning (SX-EW) also dipped by 1pc during the 11-month period.
The data indicated reductions in output in major copper mining countries including Chile and Indonesia, which saw 1pc and 46pc declines, respectively. The latter’s two major copper mines are in the midst of transitioning to different ore zones, affecting output temporarily. Following a collective 13pc growth, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia saw production slide by 3pc through January to November 2019 because of operational limitations, SX-EW mines being suspended, and curtailed planned production levels.
On the other hand, the US, Mexico, Peru, China, and Australia saw production rebound in 2019 from declines the year before. Additionally, Panama began producing copper in March 2019, including at the Cobre de Panama mine, which contributed the most to global copper production growth through the first 11 months of 2019. Regionally, North American mine production rose by 4pc in both Oceania and North America, followed by Latin America where production grew by 1pc. However, copper mine output decreased by 6pc in China, 2pc in Africa, and by 1pc in Europe.
Worldwide refined copper production decline by 0.5pc through the first 11 months of 2019, with primary and secondary production decreasing by 0.9pc and 1.6pc, respectively. Due to a 25pc decline in Chilean electrolytic refined output, due to smelter upgrades, the country’s refined copper production slid by 9pc.
Power supply interruptions, smelter outages and shutdowns, as well as a 5pc custom duty on copper concentrate imports that hindered smelter feed, reduced Zambia’s refined production by 38pc. India’s production declined by 24pc following Vedanta’s Tuticorin smelter being shutdown in April 2018.
The US, EU, Japan and Peru also dealt with smelter shutdowns and operational constraints, according to the ICSG data. However, their reductions were, in part, offset by Chinese growth and by Australian, Brazilian, Iranian and Polish recoveries after interferences with their production in 2018. Regionally, refined output rose by 10pc in Oceania and 2.5pc in Asia, but declined by 10pc in Africa, 7pc in Latin America, and 2pc in North America and Europe.
Global apparent refined usage decreased by 0.5pc through the first 11 months of last year. China’s net refined copper imports fell by 8.5pc, however, its apparent usage rose by 2pc as refinery output also grew. ICSG noted the US, India and Taiwan (China), all major copper users, experienced demand increases, while the opposite occurred in the EU and Japan. World usage, excluding China, declined by 3pc.
The data also revealed world refined copper balance during the same 11-month period in 2019 indicates a 385,000t (349,266mt) deficit.