Global copper smelting rises in December, driven by China

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Global copper smelting activity climbed in December, led by top producer China, while North America extended its decline as coronavirus cases surged, data from satellite surveillance of copper plants showed.

Europe dipped slightly, but its copper smelting activity remained strong, satellite service SAVANT and broker Marex Spectron said in a joint statement on Thursday.

“China and the rest of Asia continued the rapid expansion that was seen in November, although as we head towards Chinese New Year, we would expect to see some softening of activity levels,” said Guy Wolf, global head of analytics at Marex, which helped develop SAVANT.

“The stand-out reading in December continues to be North America, where the pandemic has depressed activity levels to near the lows of the year.”

Earth-i, which specializes in geospatial data, launched its SAVANT service late last year, tracking more than 100 smelters representing 80% to 90% of global production.

It sells data to fund managers, traders and miners and publishes a free monthly index of global copper smelter activity.

Its global dispersion index rose to an average of 55.2 in December from 53.0 a month earlier.

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

China, the world’s top refined copper producer, gained to 55.5 in December from 48.6 a month before, while North America dropped to 33.6 from 36.6 in November and 45.4 in October.

(By Eric Onstad; Editing by Barbara Lewis)

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