Copper smelting activities across the world dropped significantly last month mostly due to maintenance-related shutdowns at smelters.
According to a monthly smelting activity index published by earth-i’s SAVANT satellite platform a record number of smelters, led by the smaller copper facilities in China, went into maintenance during the month, resulting in the low activity numbers.
The global activity dispersion index, where a count of 50 denotes average activity, fell to 41.5 in July, the lowest since March 2018. The drop was led by a significant decline in smelting activities in China where the index registered at 43.1, slightly above last year’s low of 42.6 reported in December.
According to Guy Wolf, global head of analytics at Marex Spectron, the low global numbers reflect how China’s higher smelting volumes have propped up global numbers in the past few months. He added that the “weakness globally is starker” in the readings taken after Chinese smelters shut down for deferred maintenance in July.
The index for North America saw its lowest monthly figures in four years at 26.2 in July, continuing a quarter-and-a-half of declines in smelting activities observed in the region. Wolf said that the sustained low activity in North America could lead to strength in copper premiums in H2 2020.
Global-i and Marex Spectron have partnered to create the SAVANT copper platform that monitors around 90pc of global copper smelters. The platform uses geospatial data from satellites to record smelting activities.