SHANGHAI, Oct 11 (SMM) – China’s production of copper cathode fell unexpectedly in September, showed an SMM survey, as tight supply of raw materials, copper anode and scrap, led to weaker-than-planned output from some smelters.
China produced a total of 759,300 mt of copper cathode last month, down 1.09% from a month ago but up 5.93% from a year ago. SMM had expected production to grow from 767,700 mt in August to 782,300 mt.
For the first nine months of 2019, production of copper cathode across China amounted to 6.56 million mt, up 0.79% from the same period last year.
Dongying Fangyuan, Tongling Nonferrous, Baiyin, Wuzhou Jinsheng, Qingyuan Jiangtong and Jinchuan Group all reported production that fell short of their original plans, as blister copper supply tightened after the shutdown of some smelters and a decline in imports.
Yunnan Copper’s branch in Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, closed 150,000 mt/year capacity on September 23, which also contributed to the production decline.
Prices of sulphuric acid, meanwhile, remained sluggish, and some regions have seen the prices failing to cover production costs. This has yet to impact production at smelters.
Zijin Mining’s newly-commissioned copper smelting project, with annual capacity of 150,000 mt, in Heilongjiang began to turn out copper cathode on October 1. Guangxi Nanguo is ramping up, with capacity utilisation rate exceeding 60%.
Chifeng Yunnan Copper’s 200,000 mt/year capacity began trial operation on October 2, while Baiyin Nonferrous resumed its 200,000 mt/year project in the second half of September.
SMM expects China’s production of copper cathode to grow to 778,300 mt in October, 8.01% higher than the corresponding month of 2018.
This will bring production in January-October to 7.34 million mt, up 1.51% from a year earlier.
Tight supply of copper anode and scrap will continue to weigh on Chinese smelters. Tongling Nonferrous’ Jinguan Copper unit will begin an overhaul from October 10.