Global copper mine production rose by 3.7% in the first quarter of 2021, the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) reported this week. The group estimated an apparent global copper surplus of 130,000 metric tons.
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Copper mine production gains to start the year
Global copper mine production recovered during the first three months of the year, the ICSG reported this week.
Concentrate production rose by 5.5%, while solvent extraction-electrowinning fell by 3.5%.
“Output in Peru, the world’s second biggest copper mine producing country, increased by 3% mainly because March production was up by 18% from a constrained March 2020 basis,” the ICSG reported. “However, Jan-Mar 2021 production is still 10% below that of Jan-Mar 2019.”
Earlier this month, Stuart Burns delved into Peru’s ongoing COVID-19 crisis, plus its recent presidential run-off.
“The frontrunner in last month’s first round is a previously obscure ex-teacher by the name of Pedro Castillo,” Burns wrote. “Castillo’s Marxist policies have rattled markets, plunging the Peruvian stock market by 12%. It has also prompted a fall in the currency to a historic low of 3.85 to the dollar, the Financial Times reports.”
Despite cries of election fraud from opponent Keiko Fujimori, Castillo went on to carry the election with a slim majority.
The U.S. State Department issued a statement declaring the election a “model of democracy.”
“We commend Peruvian authorities for safely administering another round of free, fair, accessible, and peaceful elections, even amid significant COVID-19 pandemic challenges,” the State Department said. “These recent elections are a model of democracy in the region. We support allowing electoral authorities time to process and publish the results in accordance with Peruvian law.”
Meanwhile, top copper producer Chile saw its output decline by 2%. However, production rose by 91% in Indonesia. Furthermore, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mongolia, Panama and Russia posted production gains.
Refined copper production rises by 4.2%
In addition, global refined copper production rose by 4.2% in Q1.
Preliminary Chinese data indicates a rise in refined copper production of 8%, the ICSG reported.
However, the refined copper production story has been different elsewhere.
“The COVID-19 related global lockdown has had a notable negative impact on the world economy and subsequently on key copper end-use sectors in all regions ex-China,” the ICSG added. “Although usage started to recover in the 2nd half of 2020, global demand remains below pre-pandemic levels in most countries.”
Copper price slides
As we noted last month, the copper price surged to an all-time high May 10 of over $10,700 per metric ton. According to LME monthly trading volume data, copper futures volumes surged above 176,000 on May 10.
Since then, however, the copper price has cooled.
LME three-month copper closed Tuesday at $9,217 per metric ton, or down 8.08% month over month.
The stronger U.S. dollar has contributed to the fall in commodities prices. The U.S. dollar index rose above the 92 mark last week before closing Tuesday at 91.76.
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