ICSG: Secondary refined copper production increased from 15% in 2007 to 17% in 2016

Lisbon, Portugal — The International Copper Study Group released its 2017 Statistical Yearbook covering world copper supply and demand data for the 10-year period 2007-2016. According to the yearbook, world copper mine production rose by 31 percent during the 10-year period from 15.5 million metric tonnes (Mt) in 2007 to 20.4 Mt in 2016: both copper in concentrates and solvent extraction-electrowinning (SX-EW) production rose by around 30 percent.

Other key figures on world copper mine production indicate:

  • The SX-EW share of total mine production remained at 19 percent in 2016 compared with 2007.
  • Although the mine capacity utilization rate averaged around 85 percent over the 10-year period, over the 2009-2011 period, as a result of numerous factors including labour unrest, accidents, technical problems, and world financial crisis-related temporary shutdowns/production cuts and delays in expanded/new supply, capacity utilization averaged 83 percent and mine production grew by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of only 0.9 percent.
  • Mine production growth averaged 3.1 percent/y over the 10-year period but when excluding 2009-2011, growth was around 5 percent/y.
  • Notable changes in mine production over 2007-2016 included increases of 1.16 Mt in Peru, 950,000 t in China, 805,000 t in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and 430,000 t in Mexico. Production in Chile, by far the largest world copper mine producer, remained unchanged. Consequently, the country’s share in world production declined from 36 percent to 27 percent with Peru and China increasing their shares to 12 percent and 9 percent from 8 percent and 6 percent respectively. The revival of the African copper belt led to an increase in African copper mine output of around 1.1 Mt over the period.
  • Output from countries that were minor producers in 2007, or where copper mining production was non-existent, increased by around 395,000 t.

World refined production rose by 30 percent from 17.9 Mt in 2007 to 23.3 Mt in 2016, with a CAGR of 3 percent.

  • Primary (electrolytic and SX-EW) and secondary (from scrap) refined production increased by 28 percent and 41 percent, respectively.
  • The share of secondary production in total refined production increased gradually from 15 percent in 2007 to around 18 percent in 2011- 2013 before declining to below 17 percent in 2016.
  • Over the full 10-year period, China’s annual refined production increased from 3.5 Mt to 8.4 Mt, while production in Chile (the second leading refined copper producer) declined by 11 percent to 2.6 Mt.
  • The expansion of electrolytic refinery capacity in India and Bulgaria and electrowon capacity in Mexico led to significant increases in annual output in these countries.
  • With the start-up of several SX-EW plants production in the DRC grew from around 36,000 t in 2007 to 730,000 t in 2016. In North America, production fell by 5 percent to 2 Mt due to refinery closures in the United States and Canada. Refined production in the EU rose by 10 percent to 2.7 Mt over the same period.

World apparent refined usage increased by 30 percent (CAGR of 3 percent) over the 10-year period from 18 Mt in 2007 to 23.5 Mt in 2016.

  • Growth was driven by China1 where apparent usage over the 10-year period more than doubled, increasing by around 6.7 Mt and its share of world usage grew to 50 percent from 27 percent in 2007.
  • Conversely, world usage excluding China decreased by 10 percent (1.3 Mt) during the period, mainly due to the decline in refined usage in three of the major copper using regions, namely the EU (-20 percent), Japan (-22 percent), and the United States (-15 percent).
  • However, usage increased significantly in the MENA region (116 percent) and in Asia ex-China/Japan region (21 percent).

The 2017 Statistical Yearbook released by the International Copper Study Group is an excellent tool that allows an assessment of how the market has evolved over the last 10 years, and shows which countries increased or lost share in global copper production, usage and trade. The Statistical Yearbook is included as part of the ICSG Monthly Bulletin annual subscription and is also available for sale as a separate issue (€200 for orders originating from ICSG member countries and €300 for other orders). More information can be found under

Source: International Copper Study Group





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