BEIJING (Reuters) – Mines around the world are cutting output due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving top metals consumer China fretting over supply as it recovers from the initial demand shock that the outbreak inflicted on its economy.
China boosted copper imports year-on-year in March as it looks to reboot industrial activity across the country, but potential shortages of key metal-making raw materials create risks to production of everything from home appliances to electric vehicle batteries.
Below is a list of minerals for which China has a high import dependence.
Key suppliers: Chile, Peru
China last year relied on imports for almost 80% of its copper concentrate, based on International Copper Study Group data. The partially processed ore is used to make copper metal, a staple of the power and construction industries.
Exports from top supplier Chile have been largely unaffected despite a coronavirus state of emergency, but in Peru some miners have reduced shipments or even suspended operations altogether.
Chinese smelters are becoming “very nervous” about supplies, says a South American miner, while treatment charges are in freefall, pointing to a tighter market.