Global copper mine production down 0.7% in 2019

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Bombardho/Adobe Stock

Global copper mine production dipped last year compared with 2018, according to the most recently monthly data from the International Copper Study Group (ICSG).

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Copper concentrate production declined 0.6% and solvent-extraction electrowinning fell by around 1%, the ICSG reported.

Chile, the world’s top copper producer, saw its production drop 1% in 2019, “mainly due to lower copper head grades and few production disruptions.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Chile produced 5.6 million tons in 2019, well ahead of No. 2 copper producer Peru’s 2.4 million tons.

Indonesia’s output fell 45% as a result of a transition to different ore zones, while the aggregate production of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo fell 3% in 2019 (after posting growth of 13% in 2018).

Production in Australia, China, Mexico, Canada, Peru and the U.S. increased in 2019.

Focusing on the U.S. specifically, the USGS reported Arizona accounted for 68% of U.S. copper output last year. Overall, U.S. mine production increased 6% to 1.3 million tons.

Production of refined copper fell by 7% in the U.S., however, as a result of mine strikes.

Apparent usage down

Apparent refined usage also fell, dropping by 0.8% in 2019.

Per the ICSG, China’s net refined copper imports fell by 7%, while apparent usage rose 2%.

Not including China, global usage fell by 3%.

Market in deficit

In terms of supply and demand, the global copper market was in deficit by 340,000 tons in 2019, according to the ICSG.

However, when adjusted for Chinese bonded stocks, the market deficit jumps to 520,000 tons.

Prices decline amid coronavirus crisis

As MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns has noted in previous analyses, the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on commodities prices has not been as severe as it has for equities markets.

However, copper, like other metals, has taken significant losses.

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The average LME copper cash price in February was $5,686.45/mt, the ICSG noted, down 6% from the January average.

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