Global copper mine production drops 1% as prices continue to soar

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copper mine
Gary Whitton/Adobe Stock

Global copper mine production during the first nine months of the year fell 1%, the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) reported.

Furthermore, the global copper market posted an apparent deficit of 387,000 metric tons during the period.

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Global copper mine production

Global copper mine production slipped by 1% during the first nine months of 2020. On the other hand, the fall is well below the 3.5% drop recorded during the months of April and May, when the first wave of coronavirus infections hit many parts of the world.

Meanwhile, copper concentrate production fell 0.8%, while solvent extraction-electrowinning dropped by 1.5%.

No. 2 copper producer Peru saw its output fall 16.5% during the first nine months of the year. Although the reduction dropped to 2% in July, ICSG noted, Peru’s copper mine production in August and September fell 12.5% year over year.

Top copper producer Chile, meanwhile, saw its copper production rise in the first half of the year by 2.5%.

Like Peru, however, Chile’s production slipped in Q3. Chile’s Q3 copper mine production fell by 3.7%, the ICSG reported.

Refined copper production rises 1.2%

However, despite the drops in copper mine production, refined copper output rose by 1.2% during the first three quarters of the year.

Production in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia increased by 5.5% and 20%, respectively. Furthermore, Japanese production jumped by 5.5%.

However, China’s output took hits from “temporary shutdowns related to COVID-19 restrictions, tight scrap supply and constraints associated with concentrate imports and oversupply in the sulphuric acid market,” the ICSG reported.

Elsewhere, COVID-19 lockdowns from March-May led to a 20% drop in India’s refined copper output.

In addition, U.S. output fell by 14%.

Copper price soars

According to the ICSG, the LME average cash price for copper jumped by 5.4% from October to November. The November average price reached $7,063 per metric ton.

Furthermore, the average price for the year to date of $6,039 per metric ton marked a jump of 0.6% from the 2019 annual average.

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