Copper production jumped by a million tonnes last year

The latest report by the International Copper Study Group which includes full year 2016 estimates shows world mine copper production jumped by 5.3%, or 1 million tonnes last year to 20.16 million tonnes.

According to the report the increase was mainly due to a 38% (650,000 tonnes copper) rise in Peruvian concentrate output that benefitted from new and expanded capacity brought on stream in the last two years; a recovery in production levels in Canada, Indonesia and the US, and expanded capacity in Mexico, and low frequency of supply disruptions due to strikes, accidents or adverse weather conditions.

However overall growth was partially offset by a 3.8% (220,000 tonnes) decline in production in Chile, the world’s biggest copper mine producer, and a 4.5% decline in the Democratic republic of the Congo where output is being constrained by temporary production cuts.

On a regional basis, production rose by 6% in the Americas and 11.5% in Asia but declined by 3.5% in Africa while remaining essentially unchanged in Europe and Oceania.

ICSG estimates world refined production increased by about 2.5% (530,000 tonnes) in 2016 with primary production (electrolytic and electrowinning) increasing by 3% and secondary production (from scrap) declining by 2%.

World refined copper balance for 2016 indicates a deficit of around 50,000 tonnes, mainly because of a 2.5% increase in Chinese apparent demand. The refined copper market balance for the month of December 2016 showed a small surplus of around 20,000 tonnes.

Preliminary production by the top 10 copper mining companies totalled nearly 9.5m tonnes last year, a 4% increase compared to 2015, and some 45% of global production.

Six out of 10 companies increased their copper output while four of them declined. All companies in the Top 10 that disclose production costs reported significant reduction in copper unit costs.