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Global copper smelting activity largely flat in August despite China bounce

Kitco News

LONDON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Global copper smelting activity was largely flat in August, with a rebound in top refined producer China offset by weak readings elsewhere, data from satellite surveillance of metal processing plants showed on Tuesday. Only four of the 37 primary smelters that are monitored in China were inactive by the end of last month, commodities broker Marex and the SAVANT satellite service said in a statement.

"August is always an interesting month for the copper midstream as smelters in China ramp up production ahead of the seasonal construction peak in September and October," said Guy Wolf, global head of analytics at Marex.

Earth-i, which specialises in observational data, tracks smelters representing up to 90% of global production. It sells data to fund managers, traders and miners. It also publishes a free monthly index of global copper smelter activity. Its global dispersion index dipped to an average of 46.7 in August, from 46.8 in July, even though Chinese smelting activity recovered to 48.1 in August from 44.8 in July, which had been its weakest reading since October 2022. A measure of 50 points indicates that smelters are operating at the average level of the past 12 months.

Activity was soft in South America and North America with dispersion readings of 41 and 30.9, respectively. In nickel, the global dispersion index rebounded to 47.3 in August from 40.0 in July, ending eight consecutive monthly declines. The nickel pig iron (NPI) index rose by 9.9 points to an average of 52.3 in August, but by the end of the month activity in China had fallen back sharply, with half of the 28 NPI operations monitored seen as inactive. (Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Mike Harrison)
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