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SMM Analysis: What are Implications of New Power Rationing Policy on the Copper Industry Chain?
Aug 11, 2022 13:09CST
Source:SMM
SMM survey shows that the smelters were the first to bear the blunt, which were forced to reduce the production. Specifically, smelters in Zhejiang and Anhui are currently reducing the production, which will weigh on the expected growth rate of copper cathode production in August.

SHANGHAI, Aug 11 (SMM) - Beset with soaring temperatures, many regions in east China recently issued orange heat alert, and the power load rose sharply. On August 6, the Zhejiang Provincial Development and Reform Commission issued a notice of consuming electricity of 12.50 million kilowatts in an orderly manner since August 8. The amount of electricity will be adjusted based on the latest development. Subsequently, enterprises in Anhui, Jiangsu and other provinces also received notices of power curtailment one after another. What are the implications of this round of power rationing on the copper industry chain?

SMM survey shows that the smelters were the first to bear the blunt, which were forced to reduce the production. Specifically, smelters in Zhejiang and Anhui are currently reducing the production, which will weigh on the expected growth rate of copper cathode production in August. It is learned that the production of blister copper and refined copper of a copper smelter in Zhejiang was greatly affected, which is estimated to decline by more than 15%. (Note: the smelter has a smelting capacity of 300,000 mt/year and a refining capacity of 470,000 mt/year. In particular, its refining capacity accounts for 4% of China's total refining capacity.) At the same time, smelters in Tongling also reduced the operating rate of copper cathode production by 25-40% on daily basis from August 10, which is planned to last for a week. As for how long the production cut will endure and how much the reduction will be, it depends on the actual power shortage. (Note: the copper smelters in Tongling, Anhui province has a smelting capacity of 1.03 million mt/year and a refining capacity of 1.18 million mt/year. In particular, its refining capacity accounts for about 10% of the total domestic capacity.)

In terms of downstream producers, enterprises in Taizhou, Jinhua, Jiaxing, Wenzhou and Huzhou of Zhejiang province, which engaged in business of processing enamelled wires, motors, and copper rods, all received notices of power curtailment. SMM survey suggests that the copper rod enterprises in the investigated region had significantly reduced or suspended the production. Many enterprises reported that the delivery date was put off, and the output was likely to be directly affected. Enamelled wire companies also received the notice of power rationing. Fortunately, the operating rate of the machines was not high originally, and the normal production could be maintained even when some large drawing machines of high energy consumption were shut down. Therefore, the power rationing had relatively limited impacts on enamelled wire production. However, the power curtailment is still extending. Many companies received power curtailment notices on Monday (August 8), but the actual power curtailment requirements have not yet been fully released. It is still unclear when the power rationing will conclude and whether the restriction will tighten. (Note: the production capacity of enamelled wires and copper rods in Jiangsu and Zhejiang accounts for about 44% and 75% of the total domestic production capacity respectively)

The power curtailment in Tongling, Wuhu, Xuancheng, and Huangshan in Anhui was also worth attention, where there are many enterprises engaged in the production of copper cathode rods, plates and strips, copper foils, enamelled wire and copper rods. Among them, the copper cathode rod makers in Tongling have already stopped or cut the production. The plate and strip as well as copper foil producers also adopted staggered production schemes, and the outputs declined significantly. It is expected that the power curtailment will last for more than a week, and the subsequent power restriction enhancement and end time also depend on the power shortage.

In addition, some copper rod enterprises in Yixing also reported receiving notices of power rationing this week. Most of the producers controlled the power consumption through staggering production (the machines were shut during the day and working at night), large drawing machines suspension, etc. As of press time, the impact on copper cathode rod producers in Zhejiang and Jiangsu has been limited, but if the power curtailment extends, more wire and cable as well as copper rod enterprises will suffer. (Note: the production capacity of copper cathode rods in Jiangsu and Zhejiang accounts for about 38% of the total domestic capacity while that in Anhui accounts for about 8%) 

Judging from the survey results, this power rationing policy is different from the energy consumption dual control policy in the third quarter of last year. The current power curtailment is introduced to prevent power overload caused by enduring high temperatures. Moreover, the policy not only focuses on securing household power consumption, but also attempts to ensure the production power consumption as much as possible. As staggered production are advocated to contain the total electricity consumption, the power rationing has much less impacts on production compared with last year. It is expected that the policy of power curtailment will adjust according to the following weather change and the power shortage. In addition, as of press time, Sichuan, Chongqing, and Shandong have also introduced power restriction policies, but the impact on the copper industry is relatively limited. SMM will continue to pay attention to the impact of this round of power rationing on the domestic copper industry.

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