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Copper scrap production up 7% in first quarter of 2018

World refined production has increased by 1.5% in the first four months of 2018 with primary production rising by 0.5% and secondary production increasing by 7%, according to new figures released by the International Copper Study Group.

Global copper mine production increased by 380 000 tonnes during the first four months of this year. Although ‘no major supply disruptions’ occurred in the first four months of this year, overall growth was partially offset by lower output at some mines in Canada (-10%) and in the United States (-11%).

On a regional basis, refined output is estimated to have increased in Africa (10%) and Asia (2%) while remaining essentially unchanged in Europe and in the Americas.

World apparent refined usage is estimated to have increased by about 1% in the first four months of 2018. Projections indicate a small surplus of about 40 000 tonnes for 2018 and a deficit of around 330 000 tonnes for next year.

Meanwhile, spreads on bare bright scrap have weakened so far this year owing to ncreased availability of scrap as well as uncertainty in top copper consumption market China. Bare bright spreads for 2018 have averaged 11-13 cents per pound, Argus Media reports. This is under the active month metal price year to date, thus widening from the 2017 average of 8-10 cents per pound. This trend is expected to be maintained.

The average Comex spot price for the first half of 2018 came in at US$ 3.1149 per  pound, well above the 2017 yearly average of US$ 2.8053 per pound. The LME cash price has averaged US$ 6,917 per tonne for the first half of 2018, up from last year’s average of US$ 6,166 per tonne.

Most recently, the active price was around US$ 2.70 per pound – and the outlook for the rest of the year is described as volatile because of growing global trade tensions. Higher freight rates as a result of tight truck supply will likely still impact the day-to-day business of scrap dealers and brokers.

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