Copper mine production finishes 2020 unchanged year over year

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copper mine

Gary Whitton/Adobe Stock

Despite significant drops in output earlier in 2020 at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, global copper mine production last year came in unchanged compared with the previous year.

According to the International Copper Study Group, the global copper market posted an apparent deficit of 560,000 tons in 2020.

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ICSG: copper mine production flat in 2020

Copper mine production around the world took a dive in the first half of 2020, as the pandemic disrupted operations and metals demand patterns. Mine output dropped by 3.5% year over year in April-May 2020.

However, the second-half recovery, paced by China, saw production break even for the year.

Peru, the second-largest producer, saw mine production fall 12.5% in 2020. Top producer Chile, meanwhile, saw its output drop just 1%.

Elsewhere, after the transition of two mines to different ore zones, Indonesian output rose by 39%.

“COVID-19 related constraints and other operational issues also resulted in declines in production in other major copper mine producing countries, most notably Australia, Mexico and the United States,” the ICSG added.

Refined production up 1.5%

However, refined copper production rose by 1.5% year over year in 2020.

Chile’s refined output rose by 2.7%.

Meanwhile, China’s refined output rose by 2.5%. However, temporary shutdowns related to COVID-19 restrictions, tight scrap supply and constraints associated with concentrate imports weighed on growth, the ICSG added.

Sideways copper

As for prices, copper has trended sideways this month.

After surging to a peak of $9,563 per metric ton on Feb. 25, the LME three-month copper price fell to $8,757 per metric ton by March 4.

Since then, copper has trended sideways. The LME three-month price closed Tuesday at $9,086 per metric ton.

Meanwhile, the average LME cash price in February came in at $8,460 per metric ton, or up 6% from the January average, the ICSG reported.

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