According to the International Copper Study Group’s (ICSG) most recently monthly report, global copper mine production dropped 1.3% in Q1 2019 compared with the same quarter the previous year.
In addition, concentrate production fell 1% and solvent extraction-electrowinning fell 3.5%.
Top copper producer Chile saw production fall 5% in the quarter. More recently, a two-week strike at Codelco’s Chuquicamata mine reportedly came to an end last week, as the labor unions representing workers at the mine voted to accept an offer from the company.
Meanwhile, Indonesian concentrate production fell 52%. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, production rose just 1.7% in Q1 after a total 11% jump in 2018.
While not enough to offset losses in Chile and Indonesia, production gains were realized in No. 2 producer Peru, Australia, China and Mongolia, according to the ICSG.
Global refined production also fell in the first quarter, dropping 1.1%, as primary production fell 1.5% while secondary scrap production increased 0.7%.
Chile’s refined output fell 32% “mainly to temporary smelter shutdowns whilst undergoing upgrades to comply with new environmental regulations.” Indian production fell 45% as Vedanta’s Tuticorin smelter remains shuttered.
Refined output was also down in Germany, Japan, Peru and the U.S.
However, apparent refined usage increased 0.8% in Q1, paced in part by a 4% increase in usage in China. World usage ex-China fell 2%.
In terms of prices, the average May price on the LME reached $6,028.31 per ton, down 6.5% from April’s average $6,445.10 per ton.
Meanwhile, through the end of May, the high copper price on the LME was $6,572 per ton (reached March 1), with a low of $5,780.50 per ton (reached on May 31). The average price for the year through May was $6,221.50 per ton, marking a 4.6% decline from the 2018 annual average.