Copper: Preliminary Data for December 2015

The International Copper Study Group (ICSG) released preliminary data for December 2015 world copper supply and demand in its March 2016 Copper Bulletin.

World mine production is estimated to have increased by around 3.5% (650,000 tonnes) in 2015 compared with production in 2014. The impact of price-related mine closures or production cuts announced in the 2nd half of the year mainly in Africa, North America and Chile was more than offset by increases in other regions. Concentrate production increased by 4% while solvent extractionelectrowinning (SX-EW) remained stagnant.

The increase in world mine production was mainly due to a recovery in production levels at operating mines in Indonesia (53% growth in Indonesian mine production because 2014 output was constrained by a seven month ban on concentrates exports) and an 23% increase in Peruvian output (benefitting from higher production rates at operating mines and a ramp-up in production from mines that started in 2014/2015). Production remained essentially unchanged in Chile, the world biggest copper mine producer.

On a regional basis, production rose by 4.5% in South America, 2.5% in North America, 8% in Asia and 1.5% in Europe. However, production declined by 1.5% and 3.5% in Africa and Oceania, respectively. The average world mine capacity utilization rate in 2015 declined to around 85% from 86% in 2014.

World refined production is estimated to have increased by about 1.6% (350,000 tonnes) in 2015 compared with refined production in 2014: primary production was up by 2% and secondary production (from scrap) remained essentially unchanged as output was constrained by tight supply of scrap.

The main contributor to growth in world refined production was China (up by 4%). Output in Chile and Japan (the second and third leading refined copper producers) declined by 1.5% and 4.5%, respectively, due to smelters’ maintenance shutdowns and operational failures. Production increased by 4% in the United States, the fourth largest refined copper producer. On a regional basis, refined output is estimated to have increased in Africa (1%), Asia (3%) and North America (4%) while declining in South America (-1%), Europe (-1%) and Oceania (-4%). The average world refinery capacity utilization rate for 2015 remained practically unchanged at around 83.5% as compared to 2014.


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