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Global copper market was in surplus in January as refined production up 5.5% - report

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(Kitco News) - According to preliminary data from the International Copper Study Group (ICSG), in January 2023, global copper mine production increased by about 4.5%, with concentrate production increasing by around 3.5% and solvent extraction-electrowinning (SX-EW) by about 9%.

ICSG said that actual production in Chile, the world’s largest copper producing country, increased by 3% compared to January 2022, but was lower by 1.5% when compared to the average monthly production of 2022, adding that Chilean concentrate production grew by 0.8% in January and SX-EW output by 8%.

“In Peru, local communities’ actions impacted production at various copper mines leading to a decline of 0.3% in the country’s total output. Concentrate output was down by 1.6%, as the mines impacted were mainly producing concentrates,” it added.

According to the report, output in the D.R.Congo is estimated to have grown by about 15% as a consequence of rises at the new Kamoa mine and new/expanded capacity at other mines, while Chinese mine production rose by 1% and output in the United States declined by 5%.

ICSG’s preliminary data indicate that world refined copper production increased by about 5.5% in January 2023 with primary production (electrolytic and electrowinning from ores) up by about 5.9% and secondary production (from scrap) up by 4.7%.

“Growth in world refined production was mainly attributed to strong output in China and the D.R. Congo, due to expanded capacity,” ICSG said.

Importantly, the group noted that the world apparent refined copper usage grew by about 1.5% in January 2023, with Chinese apparent demand (excluding changes in bonded/unreported stocks) grew by 2% and net refined copper imports declined by 0.6%; while world ex-China refined usage is estimated to have increased by about 0.7%.

ICSG also said that in January, the world refined copper balance, based on Chinese apparent usage (excluding changes in bonded/unreported stocks), indicated a preliminary surplus of about 103,000 t, adding that the world refined copper balance adjusted for estimated changes in Chinese bonded stocks indicated a market surplus of about 176,000 t.

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