Global refined copper production from scrap dropped by 3.1pc to 3.5mn mt in January-November 2020 versus the same period in 2019, according to the International Copper Study Group’s (ICSG’s) latest statistics.
The group noted that while secondary production fell in the first 11 months of 2020, overall refined copper output across the world increased by 1.8pc on an annual basis led by a 2.9pc growth in primary production to 18.8mn mt from 18.28mn mt in January-November 2019.
In Chile, primary copper production rose by 28pc in January-November 2020 against the same period in the previous year, ICSG noted, though it was impacted by temporary smelter shutdowns owing to new environmental regulations. In China, smelting declined due to COVID-19 related shutdowns, tight scrap supply, and limited imports of concentrates.
However, copper production rose by 5pc in the Democratic Republic of Congo and by 32pc in Zambia during the first 11 months of 2020 compared to January-November 2019. In India, refined copper output fell by 19pc due to the COVID-19 lockdowns in the first half of the year, and the same reason was cited for a 12pc decline in production in the US during this timeframe.
Global mine production fell slightly on a comparative basis, down by 0.2pc at 18.66mn mt in January-November 2020, compared to 18.69mn mt during the same period in 2019, led by a 13.5pc drop in mining output from Peru.
Copper consumption, however, continued to grow, rising by 2.5pc to 22.98mn mt in January-November 2020 from 22.43mn mt in the same time frame in 2019. The rise was mainly attributed to a 14pc growth in China’s consumption of the red metal even as other regions across the world registered declines during the period under review. The increase in consumption in China also reflects on a 590,000mt apparent deficit in global copper balances, according to the ICSG.