Global copper deficit widens 21% in 2017 as refined supplies stagnate – by Henry Lazenby ( – March 21, 2018)

VANCOUVER ( – The latest data from the Lisbon, Portugal-based International Copper Study Group (ICSG) points to a 21% year-on-year widening in the global deficit of refined copper, as refined supplies remain stagnant.

During 2017, the global refined copper balance slid to a deficit of 163 000 t of red metal, compared with the 135 000 t recorded during 2016, which has been adjusted for changes in Chinese bonded stocks.

According to the ICSG, global mine output in 2017 fell 2% year-on-year to 20-million tonnes, which was mainly attributable to a 1% decline in Chile production – the world’s largest producer of the red metal – which was negatively affected by the strike at the Escondida mine in the first part of the year and lower output from State-owned Codelco mines.

Lower grades at mines in Argentina, Canada, Mongolia and the US resulted in 59%, 14%, 14% and 12% fewer tonnes of copper produced, by each respective country.

A 12.5% decrease in Indonesian concentrate output also weighed on global concentrate supplies, as output was constrained by a temporary ban on concentrate exports that started in January 2017 and ended in April 2017.

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