Global copper mine production remained unchanged in the first four months of 2020 compared to the Jan-April period in 2019 according to the International Copper Study Group (ICSG).
Copper concentrate production declined by 0.5pc, according to ICSG data released on Tuesday. In April, copper production declined by 3.5pc compared to the same month last year as almost all copper mines shut down to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19.
Peru’s copper production in the first four months of 2020 declined by 17pc compared to the first four months of 2019 and dropped by 33pc in April 2020 alone. However, production in the world’s biggest copper producing country, Chile, increased by 3.8pc on recovery from constrains in 2019 and minimal effect of the pandemic-related lockdowns at that time. Copper production in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) also increased by 3.5pc from Jan-April 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.
Indonesia’s copper output increased by 26pc in the first four months of the year as the country transferred two of its copper mines to a different ore zone. However, Chinese copper mine production during the same period declined by 1pc compared to January-April 2019 due to COVID-19 related shutdowns.
Global refined copper production was also unchanged in the first four months of the year compared with the same 2019 period, with primary copper production rising by 2pc while secondary decreasing by 8pc, ICSG reported.
Refined electrolytic copper production in Chile increased by 36pc in the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 due to temporary smelter shutdowns for upgrades while total refined copper production, including electrowinning, jumped by 11pc during the Jan-April 2020 period.
Refined copper production also increased by 5pc in Japan during the first four months of the year from January-April 2019. In Africa, refined copper production in DRC increased by 2pc but dropped by 13pc in Zambia due to temporary shutdowns and operational issues. Production of the material also declined by 20pc in India during January-April 2020 as Birla copper suspended operations due to an imposed lockdown in March.
Global refined copper usage fell by 2.5pc in the first four months of 2020. In China, refined copper usage declined by 1pc due to a pc increase in imports in the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. Consumption also fell by 6pc and 7pc in Japan and the EU, respectively. US refined copper production and usage data are not available yet, however, ICSG has estimated about a 5pc decline in refined copper usage from Jan-April 2020 compared to Jan-April 2019.
Refined copper balance in the first four months of the year saw a 54,431mt surplus based on apparent usage in China.