The impact of COVID-19 related lockdowns saw world copper mining production dropping by 4pc in the April-May period, according to the International Copper Study Group (ICSG).

 

The group’s latest data, released on Monday, indicated that global copper mine output fell by 1pc in H1 2020 compared with the same period a year ago, while copper concentrate production decreased by 1.2pc during the same period.

 

Copper production decreased in Australia, Canada, Mexico, the US, and Mongolia. However, Peru’s copper output saw the steepest decline in the first half of 2020, falling by 20pc compared with H1 2019 and by 38pc in the April-May period from the same two months last year, as mines stopped work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

On the other hand, production in Chile, the world’s largest copper producer, grew by 2.6pc in the first half of 2020 compared with a 2.5pc decline in H1 2019. Production of the red metal also rose in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in Indonesia by 5pc and 18pc, respectively. 

 

ICSG attributed the rise in copper output in DRC to the ramp-up in mining at the beginning of the year to offset the losses from the closure of the Mutanda mine in December 2019. In Indonesia, the production rose after two of its largest copper mines were transitioned to different ore zones.

 

The refined copper output from primary sources increased by 2.3pc but fell from secondary sources such as copper scrap by 5.2pc resulting in an average increase of 1pc in global refined copper output. In Chile, refined copper output increased by 12.5pc despite smelter shutdowns for upgrades, according to ICSG.

 

Tight scrap supply, COVID-19 related constraints, and oversupply in the sulfuric acid market affected China’s refined copper production negatively during the same period. India’s refined copper output also dipped by 25pc in H1 2020 after Birla Copper suspended operations due to the national COVID-19 related lockdown. Japanese production recovered from the many maintenance shutdowns last year, to rise by 4pc during the same period under comparison.

 

In Africa, refined copper production fell by 16pc in Zambia due to temporary shutdowns owing to the pandemic but rose in DRC by 4pc in H1 2020 compared with the same period last year.

 

Global apparent usage was unchanged in H1 2020.

 

Global copper supply in H1 2020

(in mn mt)

 H1 2020H1 2019
Global mine production9.8389.937
Global mine capacity12.39312.355
Primary refined production9.9719.751
Secondary refined production1.9272.032
Global refinery capacity14.61114.192
Mine capacity utilization 80.4pc79.4pc
Refineries capacity utilization81.4pc83pc

Source: ICSG

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