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ICSG forecast revises outlook for copper

The International Copper Study Group (ICSG) now expects a deficit in the red metal of about 27 000 tones for 2023, well down on its April forecast of a 114 000 tonne deficit in April.

ICSG says this is mainly due to a higher anticipated growth rate in Chinese apparent usage. Looking ahead, a surplus of about 467 000 tonnes is expected in 2024 as a consequence of additional supply, again compared to a surplus of 298 000 tonnes previously predicted in April.

The forecasts for copper have been published by the ICSG after its latest meeting in Lisbon, Portugal in early October.

It expects world copper mine production to increase by 1.9% in 2023 with growth of about 3.7% forecast in 2024.

‘The rate of growth of world copper mine production in 2023 has been revised downwards vis-à-vis ICSG’s April 2023 expectations from 3% to 1.9%, mainly due to geotechnical issues, equipment failure, adverse weather, community actions, a slower than expected ramp-up of projects, revised company guidance and lower grades,’ it says.

Scrap production up World refined copper production is forecast to rise by about 3.8% in 2023 and 4.6% in 2024.

Output this year is being limited by operating constraints/maintenance works in Chile, Indonesia, Sweden and the United States. ‘Growth in 2023 and 2024 will be mainly sustained by the continued expansion of Chinese electrolytic capacity,’ the forecast adds.

‘However, 2024 will also see the start-up of new or expanded smelters/refineries in Indonesia, India and the United States that will also contribute to higher production.’

World secondary production from scrap is expected to increase in both 2023 and 2024 supported by the development of new secondary smelter and refinery capacity.

The forecast concludes: ‘Although the global economic outlook is challenging, an expected improvement in manufacturing activity, the ongoing energy transition and the development of new semis production capacity in various countries should support higher growth in world refined usage in 2024.’

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