Sluggish smelting activity in China due to the high copper prices in the LME and Comex copper markets in March affected overall smelting activity worldwide according to the latest SAVANT data from earth-i and Marex Spectron.
In March, the SAVANT platform indexed estimated global smelting dispersion at 39.8 a record low, which was down from the lowest point of 40.4 recorded in July 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Smelting in China was indexed at 40.7 more than 10 points down from 55.5 recorded in December 2020.
According to Dr Guy Wolf, head of analytics at Marex Spectron, this decline was led by the margin pressures on Chinese smelters due to the global shortage of concentrates. Moreover, a softness in demand due to the high LME copper prices last month also led Asian smelters to reduce their activity.
COVID-19 related shutdowns in Europe affected activity in that region, where smelting dispersion was estimated at a low of 32.4 compared to its previous low of 35.8 reported in March 2018.
Smelting activity also weakened in North America last month after showing signs of strengthening in the first two months of the year. The SAVANT data indexed this region’s smelting activity at 32.3 due to unusually large maintenance outages in March, its lowest reading since July 2020 when it indexed at 24.9.