US copper exports declined by 11pc in 2020 to 777,170.90mt from 872,982.18mt in the previous year after significant declines in trade during the first half of the year, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scrap exports, however, increased by 2.9pc in December 2020 to 66,030.15mt from 64,139.31mt in the same month of the previous year, according to the latest trade data from the US Census Bureau.
Exports in the fourth quarter were tempered by the new classifications on scrap imports issued by China and the uncertainty concerning the acceptance of some grades like No. 2 copper into the country following the new quotas.
However, China remained the largest importer of US scrap in December, taking in shipments totaling 2,425.84mt during the month followed by Greece, which imported 1,106.41mt of the red metal from the US. South Korea, Malaysia, Germany, and Belgium were the other importers of copper scrap.
Refined copper was the most exported grade in 2020 with its shipments growing by 1.8pc to 171,481.28mt last year from 168,508mt in 2019. Bare bright exports during this period also rose by 22.3pc to 72,638.78mt from 59,401.96mt. However, exports of the No. 1 copper and No. 2 copper grades fell during this timeframe by 35.3pc and 13.5pc to 50,867mt and 101,045.77mt, respectively, from 78,562.79mt and 116,856.19mt.
In December, refined copper exports increased by 39.6pc to 18,102mt from 12,969mt in December 2019. However, exports of all other copper grades fell during this period. Bare bright shipments fell by 6.9pc to 4,909mt from 5,275mt, No. 1 Copper declined by 36.6pc to 3,779mt from 5,991mt, and No. 2 copper fell by 39.6pc to 8,972mt from 10,049mt.