Global copper mine production increased by 0.5pc in Q1 2020 to 4.9mn mt from 4.88mn mt in the same quarter last year, according to the International Copper Study Group (ICSG).
However, global refined copper production in Q1 2020 remained unchanged at 5.8mn mt from the same period last year while global refined copper usage decreased by 2.5pc to 5.69mn mt from 5.8mn mt during the same period.
In the first two months of the year global copper mine production increased by 2pc, but dropped by 2.5pc in March because of the effect of COVID-19 shutdowns across the world.
In Q1 2020, Copper mine output in Peru, the world’s largest producer of the red metal, declined by 12pc from Q1 2019 and dropped by 25pc in March 2020 from the first two months of the year due to operational issues, adverse weather conditions and the pandemic. On the other hand, copper mine production in Chile and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) increased by 1pc and 4pc, respectively, during the same period.
Indonesia witnessed a 14pc increase in copper output in Q1 2020 as the country transferred two of its copper mines to a different ore zone. However, Chinese copper mine production during the quarter declined by 4pc from Q1 2019, ICSG data noted.
Global refined copper production in the first quarter remained unchanged, as primary copper production increased by 1.5pc while secondary copper production declined by 7.5pc compared with Q1 2019, according to ICSG.
Refined electrolytic copper production in Chile increase by 30pc in Q1 2020 from the same period in 2019 due to temporary smelter shutdowns for upgrades. Total refined copper production in the country, including electrowinning, rose by 12pc.
Japan’s refined copper production also increased in Q1 2020 by 8pc compared to the same quarter last year. In Africa, refined copper production in DRC was up by 2.5pc but dropped by 18pc in Zambia due to temporary shutdowns in Q1 2020 compared with Q1 2019. Refined copper production in China was negatively impacted by shutdowns due to the pandemic.
However, global refined copper usage fell by 2.5pc in the first quarter of the year. In China, the refined copper usage declined by 4pc due to an 8pc increase in import in Q1 2020 compared to the same period in the previous year. Refined copper usage also dropped in Japan and the EU by 6pc and 2.5pc, respectively. US refined copper production and usage data is not available yet, however ICSG has estimated a 3pc decline in refined copper usage in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019.
Refined copper balance in the first quarter of the year saw a 117,934mt surplus based on apparent usage in China.