ICSG: Global Copper Market Tallies 40K Ton Surplus Through First Two Months of 2019

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The International Copper Study Group (ICSG) recently reported world copper mine production fell 1.8% through the first two months of the year, per preliminary data.

The global copper market was in surplus by 40,000 tons in the first two months of the year, the ICSG reported.

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Mine Production

Production declines in Chile and Indonesia offset growth in other countries, according to the ICSG’s monthly report.

Chile, the world’s top copper producer, saw its mine production drop 6% as a result of lower copper head grades, according to the ICSG report. No. 2 producer Peru’s production increased, as did production in Australia, China and Mongolia.

Indonesian concentrate production, meanwhile, fell 50% as the transition of two mines to different ore zones led to a temporary output reduction.

Combined output in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo rose 1.3% through the first two months of the year, compared with a 13% increase in 2018.

Refined Production

Preliminary data shows global refined production was flat through the first two months of the year, with primary production falling 0.6% and secondary production from scrap jumping 0.3%.

China, Australia, Brazil and Poland contributed to refined production growth, but production in Chile fell 15% on account of temporary smelter shutdowns. The report notes India’s production fell 45%, still hampered by the ongoing shutdown of Vedanta’s Tuticorin smelter (which has remained shuttered since May 2018).

Refined Usage

Similarly, apparent refined usage was also flat through the first two months of the year.

China’s apparent usage increased 4% during the two-month period. Elsewhere, demand increased in India but fell in Japan, the E.U. and the U.S.

Copper Prices

The copper price has been on the decline of late, in May posting its largest monthly loss since November 2015, according to Reuters.

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The ICSG noted the average LME cash price for April 2019 was $6,445.10 per ton, down 0.1% from the March average of $6,451.02 per ton.

The low price through the first four months of the year was $5,811 per ton (Jan. 3), while the high came in at $6,572 (March 1). The January-April 2019 average was down 3.9% from the 2018 annual average, hitting $6,270.39 per ton.

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