SHANGHAI, Dec. 19 (SMM) –
According to China Customs, China's imports of scrap copper for November were 430,000 mt, up 7.84% MoM and 7.9% YoY, nearing the highs for the year. Increases in China's imports of scrap copper in November were in line with SMM expectations and were mainly due to the slumps in copper futures prices in late September stemming from the European debt crisis that have heightened importer interest in replenishing stocks. Meanwhile, Environmental Protection Certification for solid wastes is expected to become tougher in 2012. This has prompted scrap copper importers to step up imports before year's end. As copper price trends remain unclear, importers are now expected to slow scrap copper imports, which should remain between 400,000-420,000 mt in December.
Unwrought Copper and Copper Semis
According to preliminary data from China Customs, China's total imports of unwrought copper and copper semis for November were 452,000 mt, up 68,000 mt from October to set a high for the year, mainly due to an increase in refined copper imports. Consistent with prior SMM analysis, port arrivals of imported copper rose in November due to the impact of the Chinese National Day holiday in October and other factors identified. Execution deadlines for some long-term copper import contracts near as the end of the year approaches, another factor contributing to an increase in copper imports. A rise in copper concentrate imports also contributed to the 68,000 mt increase in imports of unwrought copper and copper semis recorded in November. During our survey of major domestic copper smelters, some smelters confirmed to SMM that copper concentrate imports in November came in higher than expected, largely due to the execution of long-term contracts. Imports of copper concentrate were expected to increase by about 10,000 mt in November. As copper imports have remained stable since early December, the volume of China's imports of unwrought copper and copper semis is expected to stay above the 400,000 mt level for December.