The global copper and nickel markets pulled in opposite directions in the first five months of the year according to the latest World Bureau of Metal Statistics (WBMS) report.
The copper market was in a deficit of 18,000mt from January to May compared to a full-year deficit of 268,000mt in 2019. At the same time, the global nickel market recorded a surplus with production exceeding demand by 33,300mt as opposed to a full-year deficit of 29,100mt in 2019.
Global refined copper production and demand both balanced at 2mn mt in May this year.
From January to May 2020, global copper mine production was down by 0.1pc to 8.24mn mt compared to the same period in 2019 while global refined production was up by 6.1pc to 9.8mn mt from the same period in 2019. This rise was mainly recorded in China and Chile – up by 468,000mt and 107,000mt, respectively.
Global copper demand in the first five months of 2020 rose to 9.86mn mt compared to 9.61mn mt from January to May in 2019. China again saw a 9.8pc rise in demand in the first five months of 2020 to 5.3mn mt compared to the same period in 2019. On the other hand, demand in the EU dropped by 2.2pc to 106,000mt from January-May 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
Global nickel refinery and smelter production in May 2020 was slightly higher at 179,000mt compared with demand, which stood at 165,800mt.
From January to May 2020, global nickel mine production decreased by 115,000mt to 868,900mt compared to the first five months of 2019. The Chinese smelter/refinery production fell by 69,000mt to 408,400mt through the same period under comparison. Refined nickel production in the first five months of 2020 totaled to 890,600mt while refined nickel demand was at 857,300mt.
From a demand standpoint, global nickel demand dropped by 92,900mt in the first five months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
WBMS said that COVID-19 has disrupted supply and demand of material across the world and therefore, its report is calculated on an apparent basis expecting the true demand and supply scenario from most countries to emerge in a few months.