World Copper Supply Expected to Rebound after a Turbulent 2017


The International Copper Study Group stated in their April 27th press release that they expect world copper mine production to grow 3% by the end of 2018, despite a 1.5% decrease in 2017. 2019 mine production growth is expected to remain unchanged when taking into account expected growth, disruptions, and declines.


The reasons for the decline in 2017, they found, were the supply shocks in Chile and Indonesia, as well as the temporary closures of key mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. At the Escondida Mine, Chile, official talks between the labor union and BPC begin in June, with an agreement being before then being seemingly unlikely.


World refined production is expected to increase 4% in 2018, and 1% in 2019, after a growth of only 0.7% in 2017. A 5.5% growth in primary refined production will offset an expected decrease of 2% in secondary refined production. China will remain the largest contributor to world refined production growth, and production in other countries is expected to recover significantly. Limited supplies of concentrates will mean lower production of refined copper by electrolysis in 2019.


Growth in refined copper demand is predicted to increase by 3% in 208, and 2.2% in 2019, spearheaded by the infrastructural development of China and India, as well as the global trend towards cleaner energy. Apparent demand in China is predicted to increase by 3.5% in 2018, and 2.5% in 2019. For the rest of the world, growth rates will be 2.5% and 1.9% respectively.


Overall, there is expected to be a surplus of around 40 000 t in 2018, and a deficit of 330 000 t in 2019 as apparent demand grows faster than supply.


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