As copper prices have continued to rise over the last six months, copper mine production has fallen.
According to the International Copper Study Group (ICSG), copper mine production fell 1% during the first half of the year.
Furthermore, the global copper market posted a deficit of 235,000 tons during the first half of 2020, according to the ICSG.
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Mine production drops 4% in April-May
The most significant slowdown in mine production came in April and May. The ICSG estimated mine production fell 4% during the two-month period, when coronavirus-related lockdown measures affected output.
Peru, the second-largest copper producer, saw its copper output impacted by the pandemic.
“In Peru, stoppages resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic combined with operational issues/adverse weather that affected a few major mines, led to a 20% decline in mine output over the first half of 2020 including a significant decline of 38% in April-May compared to the same period of 2019,” the ICSG reported.
Mine production also fell in Australia, Canada, Mexico, Mongolia and the U.S.
Meanwhile, Chile, the top copper producer, increased its mine production by 2.6%.
Refined copper production up 1%
However, global refined copper production in the first half of the year increased by 1%.
Primary production rose 2.3%, while secondary production fell 5.2%.
“Globally, constrained scrap supply due to the COVID-19 lockdown and lower copper prices have negatively impacted world secondary refined production,” the ICSG reported.
Total refined copper output in Chile increased 12.5%.
Copper price gains
As readers of the MetalMiner Monthly Metal Outlook know, copper prices have been on the rise this year, supported by both Chinese demand and supply concerns.
The average LME cash price in August jumped 2.3% from the previous month’s average, up to $6,497 per metric ton.
The average for the year, however, remains down 4.4% compared with the 2019 annual average.
The MetalMiner 2021 Annual Outlook consolidates our 12-month view and provides buying organizations with a complete understanding of the fundamental factors driving prices.