ICSG: Q1/2014 indicates a copper production deficit of 205,000 t

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Kupferschrott (Foto: Aurubis AG)

Lisbon, Portugal — According to preliminary data by the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) , the refined copper market balance for March 2014 (excluding the adjustment for changes in China’s bonded stocks) showed an apparent production deficit of 83,000 metric tonnes (t). When making seasonal adjustments for world refined production and usage, March showed a production deficit of 88,000 t. The refined copper balance for the first three months of 2014, including revisions to data previously presented, indicates a production deficit of 205,000 t (a seasonally adjusted deficit of 233,000 t). This compares with a production surplus of 206,000 t (a seasonally adjusted surplus of 183,000 t) in the same period of 2013.

In the first quarter 2014, world usage is estimated to have increased by around 14% (365,000 t) compared with that in the same period of 2013, supported by strong apparent demand in China. Chinese apparent demand increased by 29% based on a 70% increase in net imports of refined copper from the low net import level in first quarter 2013 and consequent lower apparent usage. Excluding China, world usage increased by around 4% supported mainly by usage growth of 12% in the EU and 16% in Japan. However, comparative usage in the first quarter 2013 remained 6% lower in the EU and 7% lower in Japan than the first quarter 2012 level.

World mine production is estimated to have increased by around 4% (185,000 t) in the first quarter 2014 compared with mine production in the same quarter of 2013. Concentrate production increased by 5% while solvent extraction-electrowinning (SX-EW) increased by 3.5%. With the exception of Indonesia (-26%) where production remained constrained by the ban on concentrates exports, all the other major copper mine producing countries had greater output. On a regional basis, production in the first quarter 2014 rose by 12% in Africa, 5% in Latin America, 9.5% in North America and remained essentially unchanged in Asia, Europe and Oceania. The average world mine capacity utilization rate for the first quarter of 2014 was slightly lower than that in the same quarter of 2013.

World refined production is estimated to have increased by 5% (273,000 t) in the first quarter 2014 compared with refined production in the same quarter of 2013: primary production was up by 6% and secondary production (from scrap) was up by 3%.  The main contributor to growth was China (+13%), followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Japan and the United Sates.  Output in Chile, the second biggest world refined copper producer, declined by 3%.  On a regional basis, refined production is estimated to have increased in Africa (12%), in the Americas (2%) and in Asia (8%) and remained essentially unchanged in Europe and Oceania. The average world refinery capacity utilization rate for the first quarter of 2014 was slightly higher than that in the same quarter of 2013.

Based on the average of stock estimates provided by consultants, Chinese bonded stocks increased by around 155,000 t in the first quarter of 2014 from the yearend 2013 level. Stocks declined by around 110,000 t in the same period of 2013.  In the first quarter of 2014, the world refined copper balance adjusted for Chinese bonded stock changes indicates a deficit of around 120,000 t compared to a surplus of around 220,000 t in the first quarter of 2013.

The average LME cash price for May 2014 was US$6,883.88 per tonne, up from the April 2014 average of US$6,670.83 per tonne. The 2014 high and low copper prices through the end of May were US$7,439.50 (on 2nd Jan) and US$6,434.50 per tonne (on 20Th Mar), respectively, and the annual average was US$6,938.34 per tonne. As of the end of May, copper stocks held at the major metal exchanges (LME, COMEX, SHFE) totalled 277,613 t, a decline of 228,891 t from stocks held at the end of December 2013. Compared with the April 2014 levels, stocks were down at all three exchanges.

The June 2014 ICSG Copper Bulletin is available for sale upon request. Please visit the ICSG website  for further copper market related information.

Source: The International Copper Study Group (ICSG)