Smaller global copper deficit seen in December – ICSG

21st March 2017 By: Henry Lazenby - Creamer Media Deputy Editor: North America

Smaller global copper deficit seen in December – ICSG

Photo by: Bloomberg

VANCOUVER ( – The International Copper Study Group said Monday the global copper market deficit had fallen back to about 50 000 t in December, following a deficit of about 90 000 t in November.

According to the group’s latest copper bulletin, world mine output is estimated to have increased by around 5%, or one-million tonnes, with concentrate output increasing by 7% and solvent extraction and electrowinning declining by 2%.

The increase in world mine output in 2016 was mainly attributable to a 38% (650 000 t) rise in Peruvian concentrate output that benefited from new and expanded capacity brought on stream in the last two years, and a recovery in production levels in Canada, Indonesia and the US, and expanded capacity in Mexico.

However overall growth was partially offset by a 3.8% (220 000 t) decline in production in Chile, the world’s biggest copper mine producer, and a 4.5% decline in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where output is being constrained by temporary production cuts.

World refined production is estimated to have increased by about 2.5% (530 000 t) in 2016, with primary production (electrolytic and electrowinning) increasing by 3% and secondary production (from scrap) declining by 2%.

World apparent refined usage is estimated to have increased by around 2% (430 000 t) in 2016. This is mainly attributable to an increase in Chinese apparent demand as world usage excluding China is estimated to have increased by only 0.9%, and Chinese apparent demand (excluding changes in unreported stocks) increased by around 2.5%, based mainly on 6% growth in refined production as in fact net imports of refined copper declined by 7.5%.

Usage in the US and Japan, the second and third leading refined copper using countries, is down by 2% and 2.5%, respectively.

As of the end of February, copper stocks held at the major metal exchanges (LME, COMEX, SHFE) totalled 605 146 t, an increase of 66 073 t (12%) from stocks held at the end of December 2016. Compared with the December 2016 levels, stocks were down at the LME (-36%) and up at COMEX (42%) and SHFE (98%).