SHANGHAI, Jan. 14 (SMM) – According to China Customs, China's imports of unwrought copper and copper semis in 2012 were 4,647,626 mt, up 14.1% YoY, and were 341,211 mt in December. China's scrap copper imports were 440,000 mt in December, and were 4.86 million mt in the whole year of 2012, up 3.7% YoY.
China's copper imports registered more noticeable increase in 2012 than 2011, but actual consumption was not seen to improve, leading to high copper stocks at Chinese bonded areas.
SMM survey revealed that the average operating rate at Chinese copper rod, tube/pipe, and sheet producers rose first but then fell throughout 2012. The average operating rate at Chinese copper semis producers dropped by around 4% YoY to 68% in 2012. Copper demand abated, but copper imports increased appreciably, resulting in high copper stocks between 700,000-800,000 mt at China's bonded areas in 2012.