Global copper smelting slumps in March – satellite data

Global copper smelting slumps in March – satellite data

Global copper smelting activity fell in March due to weaker activity in China and the Americas, data from satellite surveillance of metal processing plants showed on Tuesday.

The month started strong in China, the world’s top refined copper producer, but a growing number of smelters became inactive, commodities broker Marex and SAVANT said in a statement.

Earth-i, which specialises in observational data of 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, fell to 46.8 in March from 49.5 in February, the steepest month-on-month decline in 10 months.

A measure of 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.

“China’s GDP target of only 5% following the two sessions meeting has weighed on smelting activity,” said Guy Wolf, Marex global head of analytics.

The second quarter is a busy period for maintenance in China, setting up potential copper tightness in coming months, he add-ed.

The regional dispersion indices in North and South America fell sharply to averages of 31.5 and 44.6, respectively.

In nickel, the global dispersion index dropped to 46.8 in March from 49.1 in February due to weak demand.

In the Chinese nickel pig iron (NPI) sector, 10 out of 31 operating plants were inactive at the end of the March.

Activity in the rest of the world continued to languish below the two-year average of 50, with the exception of the NPI sector in Indonesia, the statement said.

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