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World Copper Mine production falls 0.7% in 2019: ICSG

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LONDON (Scrap Register): World mine production declined by about 0.7% in 2019, with concentrate production down by around 0.6% and solvent extraction-electrowinning (SX-EW) declining by around 1%, according to preliminary data from the International Copper Study Group (ICSG).

Reduced output in major copper mine producing countries more than offset growth in other countries. Production in Chile, the world’s biggest copper mine producing country, declined by around 1% mainly due to lower copper head grades and few production disruptions.

Indonesian output declined by around 45% as a consequence of the transition of the country’s major two copper mines to different ore zones leading to temporarily reduced output levels. After growth of 13% in 2018, aggregated production in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia declined by about 3% as consequence of temporary suspensions at SX-EW mines, reductions in planned production and operational constraints.

Preliminary data indicates that world refined production declined by about 0.6% in 2019 with primary production (electrolytic and electrowinning) falling by 1% and secondary production (from scrap) increasing by 1.5%. World refined production growth was constrained as a consequence of a 22% decrease in Chilean electrolytic refined output due to temporary smelter shutdowns whilst undergoing upgrades to comply with new environmental regulations. Total Chilean refined production (including Electrowinning) declined by 8%.

Preliminary data indicates that world apparent refined usage declined by about 0.8% in 2019. Although Chinese net refined copper imports declined by 7%, Chinese apparent usage grew by around 2% as a consequence of higher Chinese refinery output. In 2019, the world refined copper balance, based on apparent Chinese usage (excluding unreported/bonded stocks), indicated a deficit in the market of 340,000 tonnes. The world refined copper balance adjusted for changes in Chinese bonded stocks indicated a market deficit of about 520,000 tonnes.

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