ICSG: Copper mine production up 3.3% through eight months

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Global copper mine production increased by 3.3% through the first eight months of the year, the International Copper Study Group reported today.

Meanwhile, copper prices have stabilized somewhat this month after plunging in late October.

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Copper mine production

Global copper concentrate production increased by 5% during the period, the ICSG reported. Furthermore, solvent extraction-electrowinning declined by 4%.

Chile, the world’s top copper producer, saw its output fall 1% during the eight-month period.

Meanwhile, Peru, the second-largest copper producer, saw its output rise by 10% year over year. However, compared with 2019, Peru’s output declined by 8%.

Elsewhere, U.S. output declined by 0.9%, while Indonesian output increased by 57%.

Refined output increases 2.1%

Refined output during the period jumped by 2.1%, the ICSG reported.

China, the top consumer of copper, posted a jump of 5.8% in refined copper production. Refined copper output in Chile declined by 5%.

U.S. refined copper output increased by 11.5%, mainly due to “operational issues” in 2020.

Copper deficit

Through the first eight months of the year, the global copper market posted an apparent deficit of 107,000 tons.

“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 said in its report. “Although global demand started to recover in the 2nd half of 2020, refined usage still remains below pre-pandemic levels in most countries.”

Copper prices stabilize

Like aluminum, copper prices plunged in late October and early November.

The LME three-month copper price peaked at just under $10,300 per metric ton in late October. The price fell to $9,430 per metric ton earlier this month.

The price proceeded to rise to $9,732 on Nov. 15 before closing last week at $9,545 per metric ton.

In the longer term, copper prices are likely to get a boost from several factors, chiefly the recently passed U.S. infrastructure bill and the global shift toward cleaner energy and technology.

Among other projects, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill includes funding for replacement of lead water lines and expansion of the U.S. electric vehicle charging network, projects which will require copper.

Furthermore, global efforts to move to cleaner forms of energy will also require copper, as Christopher Rivituso explained in a recent report.

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