The International Copper Study Group (ICSG) reported a global surplus of 130,000mt in the refined copper market during the first quarter.
The study group noted in its preliminary March data released on Monday that copper mining, refined copper production, as well as refined copper consumption, had increased in January-March. Still, production outpaced demand resulting in a surplus.
Copper output from Asia, Africa grows
Output from global copper mines increased by 3.7pc in January-March to 5.1mn mt from 4.9mn mt in the same timeframe last year led by a 3pc growth in copper mining in Peru and a 9.1pc rise in Indonesia due to the ramp-up in its Grasberg mine’s production. Mine production also increased in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Russia, Panama, and Mongolia.
Copper mining in South America, the biggest copper-producing region in the world, has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels, ICSG noted. While production in Peru grew in the first three months it remained 10pc below the levels in 2019. In Chile, output from copper mines fell by 2pc in January-March compared to the same period last year.
Refined copper production increased by 4pc to 6.09mn mt in January-March from 5.86 mn mt in the same quarter last year. Of this total, primary refined production increased to 5.12mn mt from 4.92mn mt, while refined copper output from secondary sources like scrap climbed to 972,000mt from 949,000mt in the same period. China, where secondary refined copper production grew by 2.3pc in January-March, was the biggest contributor to the latter segment.
Refined copper production in Chile declined by 6pc. On the other hand, refined copper output in the DRC rose by 18pc due to the expansion of old plants and the launch of new refining plants in the country. In Zambia, refined copper output grew by 29pc following a recovery from smelter shutdowns throughout 2019 and 2020.
Global copper demand and consumption increased by 4.5pc to 5.96mn mt in January-March against 5.70mn mt in the same three months last year, led by a 13pc growth in Chinese copper consumption. However, ex-China, consumption of the red metal declined by 4pc after falling by 9pc in 2020, ICSG indicated.