LONDON (Scrap Register): Global copper mine production is estimated to have increased by about 2.3% in 2018, with concentrate production rising by 2.2% and solvent extraction-electrowinning (SX-EW) by 3.2%, according to the International Copper Study Group (ICSG).
The increase in world mine production of about 460,000 t copper was principally due to constrained output in 2017 (mainly in Chile, Indonesia and the DRC) and to an unusually low rate of overall supply disruptions in 2018.
Besides the restart of Katanga’s 300,000 tpy copper mine in the DRC no major new copper mine started in 2018.
Production in Chile, the world’s biggest copper mine producing country, increased by 6% primarily because output in February/March 2017 was restricted by a strike at Escondida (the world’s largest copper mine).
Indonesian concentrate output increased by 5% due to the fact that comparative output in 2017 was negatively affected by a temporary ban on concentrate exports that started in January and ended in April.
SX-EW production in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) increased by 16% and Zambian mine output increased by 8% as a result of the restart of temporarily closed capacity in both countries.
After a strong increase over the last few years due to new and expanded capacity, output in Peru (the world’s second largest copper mine producing country) stabilized.
Although no major mine supply disruptions occurred in 2018 overall growth was partially offset by lower output in Canada (-10%) and the United States (-3%).
On a regional basis, mine production is estimated to have increased by around 10% in Africa, 3.5% in Latin America and 10% in Oceania but declined by 4% in North America and remained essentially unchanged in Asia and Europe.