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Respite for Freeport as Chinese Copper Imports Spike in September


Nov. 20 2020, Updated 10:43 a.m. ET

Chinese copper imports

Chinese copper imports are an indicator of the country’s copper demand. Although China is the key driver of global steel and aluminum supply, copper mining is concentrated in Latin America. 

China is the world’s largest copper importer. In this article, we’ll look at China’s September copper imports data.

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Unwrought copper

China imported 430,000 metric tons of unwrought copper and copper products in September 2017, in contrast to 340,000 metric tons in September 2016. The country’s September unwrought copper imports registered an impressive 26.5% year-over-year increase. 

China’s imports also rose on a monthly basis. Before September, Chinese unwrought copper imports were flat for four months, as the graph above shows.

In September 2017, China’s dismal copper imports data had triggered a sell-off in copper prices (ANTO) (AAL-L). Copper miners such as Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), Southern Copper (SCCO), and Glencore (GLEN-L) also saw negative price action in September as copper prices fell 4.2%.

Copper concentrates

China also imports copper concentrates that are processed in the country. In September, China imported ~1.5 million metric tons of copper ores and concentrates, compared to ~1.4 million metric tons in September 2016.

Higher Chinese copper imports are positive for copper mining companies. Copper prices have been quite strong this month after the brief sell-off in September. 

Among other factors, several supply-side factors have supported copper prices this month. You can read Copper’s on a High: Why Investors Are Optimistic to analyze the various factors that are driving copper this month.

You can also visit our Copper page for ongoing updates on this industry.


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