Global copper mining output fell by 0.8pc in the first eight months of 2020 to 13.36mn mt from 13.47mn mt during January-August 2019, according to the latest data from the International Copper Study Group (ICSG). It estimated a global deficit of around 293,000mt of the red metal during the first eight months of the year.
Data indicated that global copper mining felt the steepest impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in April and May when production fell by 4pc across the map, with key copper-producing countries like Chile and Peru witnessing the largest declines during this period.
On the other hand, during the first eight months of the year, copper mine production increased significantly in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in Panama due to mine expansions. In Indonesia, ICSG observed, production during the eight months under review grew by 23pc after two of its major mines shifted to different ore zones in 2019.
Refined copper production, however, rose by 1.2pc in January-August 2020 to 16.07mn mt from 15.89mn mt during the same period last year. Of the total refined copper production, ICSG noted, that output from primary copper sources rose to 13.5mn mt from 13.18mn mt in January-August 2019, but was offset by a slight fall in production from secondary sources like scrap, that declined to 2.57mn mt in January-August from 2.71mn mt in the same timeframe last year.
During this period, refined copper volumes grew by 7pc in Chile while production declined in China, one of the largest copper consumers in the world, due to a suspension in smelter operations across the country, especially in August.
Temporary shutdowns and a strike at the Asarco copper refinery were some of the key factors that resulted in a 13pc decline in refined production in the US during the period under consideration. DRC and Zambia saw a 6pc and 15pc increase in refined copper production, respectively. India’s refined output fell by 21pc due to extended COVID-19 related lockdowns.