The global copper mining and production was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with refined copper production decreasing by 1 pc but production from mining increasing by 1pc, according to a report by the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) released on September 21.
Refined Copper Production
The global refined copper production rose by 1pc in H1 of the fiscal 2020 (Jan-June) with primary production up by 2.3pc and secondary production down by 5.2pc. Dearth of scrap due to COVID-19 lockdown and weak copper prices affected the refined output growth.
In Chile, electrolytic refined output in H1 increased by 51pc, compared to the prior-year period. Chile’s total refined copper output rose by 12.5pc.
In Africa, refined copper output rose by 4pc in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but dropped by 16pc in Zambia on the back of temporary shutdowns and operational issues.
In Japan, it rose by 4pc supported by several maintenance shutdowns in H1 2019.
Output in India declined by 25pc in June over the prior-year due to the suspension of Birla Copper’s operations at the end of March following a nationwide lockdown.
However, in China and the US, refined copper output declined. In China, COVID-19 related lockdowns, shortage of scrap and restrictions pertaining to concentrate imports and oversupply in the sulphuric acid market negatively impacted the refined copper output. In the US, maintenance shutdowns and long strike at Asarco led to a decline of 12pc in output.
Copper Mine Production
Global copper mine production in H1 2020 dropped by 1pc with concentrate production declining by 1.2pc and solvent extraction-electrowinning decreasing by 0.4pc. The mine production began to recover in June and reached the same level as June 2019 after the lockdown restrictions were eased in May.
In Peru, COVID-19 related shutdowns with operational issues along with unfavorable weather impacted a few major mines and led to a 20pc drop in mine output including a significant decline of 38pc in April-May. However, the reduction narrowed to 9pc in June, compared to June 2019.
The mine output also dropped in Australia, Canada, Mexico, Mongolia and the United States.
In Chile, the mine output rose by 2.6pc and recovered from production constraints in early 2019. In DRC, mine production witnessed an increase by 5pc on the back of production ramp up from mines which offset the temporary closure of the Mutanda mine in December 2019. In Indonesia, production grew by 18pc. Although Panama’s sole copper mine was temporarily shut down from early April to July due to COVID-19 restrictions, but production was higher over the first half of 2020 as the country only started producing copper in March 2019.
Refined Copper Usage
Global apparent refined copper usage in H1 remained flat compared to the prior year period as Chinese apparent usage rose by 9pc and net refined copper imports rose by 31pc offsetting the drop in other regions of the world. Based on regions, usage in Japan, the EU, the US and in Asia declined by 12pc, 10pc, 4.5pc and 8pc, respectively.
There was a deficit of 235,000mt in H1 of 2020, ICSG report said.