Global copper smelting climbs in January to one-year peak – satellite data

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Global copper smelting activity in January rose to the highest levels in a year as plants in top refined metal producer China boosted output, data from satellite surveillance of metal processing plants showed on Monday.

January is traditionally a strong month for copper production in China, while favourable economics also provided a boost, according to a joint statement from commodities broker Marex and SAVANT.

“It is probably no surprise to many in the market… given the time of year and the profitability of processing concentrates at present,” said Guy Wolf, global head of analytics at Marex.

Earth-i, which specialises in observational data of the earth, tracks smelters representing 80% to 90% of global production. It sells data to fund managers, traders and miners, and also publishes a free monthly index of global copper smelter activity.

Its global copper dispersion index, a measure of smelter activity, rose to 50.1 in January, the highest since January last year and up from to 48.0 in December.

Under the dispersion index, 50 points indicate that smelters are operating at the average level of the past 12 months. It also has a second index showing the percentage of active smelters.

The global inactive capacity index was 9.4% in January, the lowest reading in 11 months.

Newly launched smelter production data showed global refined copper output rising 5% from December to 1.77 million tonnes in January.

In nickel however the global dispersion index extended its decline, dropping to 49.4 in January from 52.3 in December, mainly due to weak nickel pig iron (NPI) activity in China.

The global NPI dispersion index fell 8.3 points to 46.3, the largest fall in nine months.

(By Eric Onstad; Editing by Jan Harvey)


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