According to the most recent data released by the International Copper Study Group, global copper mine production rose 0.5% in the first quarter of 2020 compared with Q1 2019.
Copper concentrate production was flat during the period while solvent extraction-electrowinning jumped by 3%.
In terms of supply and demand, the global copper market was in surplus by 130,000 tons in the first quarter, according to the ICSG; however, when accounting for the changes in Chinese bonded stocks, copper was in surplus by 220,000 tons.
Broken down further, production during the first two months ticked up 2%, while production fell 2.5% in March.
By country, Peru saw a significant drop in production.
“The partial paralysation of the mining industry in Peru due to COVID-19, combined with operational issues/adverse weather affecting a few major mines, led to a 25% decline in production in March, with the full first quarter presenting a decline of 12%,” the ICSG reported.
No. 1 copper producer Chile, however, saw a 1% increase in mine output.
Production in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia increased by 4% and 14%, respectively.
Refined copper production, on the other hand, was about flat compared with the same period in 2019. Primary production jumped 1.5% while secondary production from scrap fell 7.5%.
“Chilean electrolytic refined output increased by 30% as in the comparative month of 2019 production was negatively affected by temporary smelter shutdowns whilst undergoing upgrades to comply with new environmental regulations,” the ICSG reported. “Total Chilean refined production (including Electrowinning) increased by 12%.”
Copper price rallies
The copper price has rallied in recent weeks, rising to $5,846/mt as of Monday, marking a nearly 11% increase from the previous month. The LME three-month copper price is up approximately 26% since hitting a 2020 low of $4,626/mt on March 23.
The average LME cash price in May 2020 reached $5,233.82/mt, up 3.7% from the April average, the ICSG noted.