Copper prices continue hot streak; production flat through four months

copper smelter
Bombardho/Adobe Stock

The copper price has been among the fastest risers among base metals this year, aided in large part by the economic recovery in China.
In its latest reporting, the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) noted the LME average cash price in June rose 9.7% from the previous month, up to $5,742.39/mt.

Even so, the average for the year to date reached $5,499.86/mt, down 8.3% from the 2019 annual average.
Per MetalMiner Insights data, the LME three-month price closed Wednesday at $6,468/mt, marking an 8.41% increase from the previous month.
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According to the ICSG, the global copper market posted a surplus of 60,000 metric tons through the first four months of the year.
However, changes in Chinese bonded stocks indicated a surplus of 100,000 metric tons.

Copper mine production

Meanwhile, copper mine production through the first four months of the year was about flat compared with the first four months of 2019, the ICSG reported.
Concentrate production fell by 0.5% while solvent extraction-electrowinning increased by 1%.
However, in April alone, global mine production fell 3.5%, reflecting the onset of pandemic-related disruptions in many countries.
No. 2 copper producer Peru experienced adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In Peru, stoppages resulting from COVID-19 pandemic, combined with operational issues/adverse weather affecting a few major mines, led to a 17% decline in mine production over the first four months with April presenting a decline of 33%,” the ICSG said in its monthly report.
Top producer Chile, meanwhile, increased production by 3.8%.

Refined copper production unchanged

Similarly, refined copper production during the first four months came in about flat compared with the same period in 2019.
Chile’s electrolytic refined output increased by 36%, while total refined output increased 11%.
China, meanwhile, saw a decline in output.
“Chinese refined production was negatively impacted by temporary shutdowns related to COVID-19 restrictions, tight scrap supply and constraints associated with oversupply in the sulphuric acid market during the early part of the year,” the ICSG said.
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Elsewhere, India’s output declined by an estimated 20%. Japan’s refined output rose by 5%.

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