SHANGHAI, Sept. 26 (SMM) –
China's copper concentrate imports during August were 675.9 kt (physical content), a high for the year and up 42.13% YoY and 49.33% MoM. In 2H 2011, the execution of TC/RCs of USD 90/mt (cents 9.0/lbs) for long-term contracts is more beneficial to copper smelters than the USD 72/mt (cents 7.2/lbs) during 1H 2011. Although TC/RC offers for spot copper concentrate fell to between USD 60-80/mt (cents 6.0-8.0/lbs), the SHFE/LME copper price ratio was still advantageous to imports, helping increase demand for spot copper concentrate and imports of long-term contract copper concentrate. However, SMM believes copper concentrate imports will unlikely continue growing since buying has turned cautious amid slumping copper prices and due to the upcoming Chinese National Day holiday. In this context, copper concentrate imports will likely fall in September.
According to data from China Customs, China's refined copper imports during August were 235.6 kt, up 41.3 kt, or 21.3%, from July's 194.3 kt.
From preliminary import data released in early September, imports of unwrought copper and copper semis were up in August. Increases in copper imports were mostly from increases in refined copper, not copper semis, copper alloys, or other copper products.
SMM believes as import activity intensified during August due to a higher SHFE/LME copper price ratio, as well as from falling copper prices, imports of refined copper experienced significant increases. However, since downstream consumption has not fully recovered and existing market inventories need to be consumed, SMM believes refined copper imports in September will be flat at August levels.
China's imports of copper semis were 69.9 kt in August, up 4.2 kt, or 6.43%, from July. Since demand in China for copper semis imports is mainly used in some high-tech products, monthly imports are generally stable. Increases in imports of copper semis during August were mainly due to improvement in the SHFE/LME copper price ratio, which stimulated imports of copper semis from domestic end-consumers.