SHANGHAI, Oct. 22 (SMM) – Shanghai Metals Market finds China’s September copper output data questionable despite higher operating rates at its surveyed smelters of the red metal.
China's refined copper production rose 10.6% in September from the previous month to a record high of 620,086 tonnes, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Monday. The September output was 21% higher than the same month a year ago.
The monthly increase of nearly 60,000 tonnes was hardly plausible given a 2.6% gain in average operating rate at Chinese copper smelters, according to SMM’s copper analyst Zhu Wenjun.
Average operating rate at 24 copper smelters regularly surveyed by SMM, with annual capacities totaling 6.1 million tonnes, rose to this year’s high of 92.1% in September, 2.6% more than August.
A monthly output gain of 20,000 tonnes was more likely for September, according to Zhu’s analysis.
Besides, there was no new capacity coming on stream for the month, Zhu said. Xinjiang Wuxin Copper Industry Ltd.’s 100,000-tpy production line kicked off last month yet did not churn out anything.
Operating rates at Chinese copper smelters are expected to stay high in the fourth quarter as Shanghai copper prices stabilized around 52,000-yuan-per-tonne level and China’s copper concentrate imports increased earlier in the year.
China’s refined copper production rose 12.9% from a year earlier to 4,955,619 tonnes in the first nine months of the year, the statistics bureau data showed.