The global refined copper deficit increased from 149,000mt in 2010 to 381,000mt at the end of 2019, according to the 2020 Statistical Yearbook published by the International Copper Study Group (ICSG).
The report, which looks at trends that have changed the copper market over the past 10 years indicated that global copper mine production rose by more than 4mn mt to 20.5mn mt during the period under review.
Interestingly, Chile, the world’s largest copper producer increased its output by only 370,000mt over the 10-year period, resulting in a drop in its share of world copper production to 28pc in 2019 from 34pc in 2010. Peru, the second-largest producer in the world. However, increased its share to 12pc from 8pc over the same period, ICSG noted.
Copper concentrate production has risen by 31pc or 3.9mn mt over the past decade, while refined copper production rose by more than 5mn mt to 24.1mn mt in 2019 from 19mn mt in 2010.
The rise in refined copper output was led by China, whose annual production grew from 4.5mn mt to 9.8mn mt over the 10-year timeframe. Chile, which is ranked as the second-largest refined copper producer in the world, reduced its output by 30pc to 2.3mn mt from 3.2mn mt during the same period. The decline was led by lower output from the region in 2019 due to temporary smelters shutdowns that were being upgraded for environmental compliance, ICSG indicated.
Moreover, an increase in electrolytic refinery capacity in Russia, South Korea, Iran, and Turkey and the expansion of electrowinning capacities in Myanmar, Mexico, and Spain were also responsible for the rise in global refining capacities during this period.
Copper consumption rises
The world consumed more of the red metal by 2019 than it did in 2010, according to the ICSG report. World apparent consumption increased by 28pc driven mostly by China’s appetite for the metal. The Asian country’s usage over the 10-year timeframe grew by around 5.4mn mt making up for more than half of the world’s consumption by the end of 2019.
Excluding China, global copper consumption trended mostly flat over the past decade with usage declining in the EU and Japan and increasing only slightly in the US.