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Analyzing China’s January Copper Imports


Nov. 20 2020, Updated 10:49 a.m. ET

China’s January copper imports

China is the world’s largest copper consumer. China accounts for almost 45% of the global demand. Since China isn’t self-sufficient regarding copper assets, it needs to import copper. Copper mining is situated in Latin America (ILF). Companies like Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), BHP Billiton (BHP), and Antofagasta (ANTO) have plants in the region. Several copper mines in Latin America, including Escondida, which is the largest copper mine globally, are expected to negotiate labor contracts this year.

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Last month, China imported 443,000 metric tons of unwrought copper and copper product. In comparison, China imported 450,000 metric tons in December 2017 and 380,000 metric tons in January 2017. While January imports fell slightly on a sequential basis, they rose 16.6% year-over-year. China’s unwrought copper imports were 4.69 million metric tons in 2017—5.0% lower compared to 2016.

Copper concentrates

Along with unwrought copper, China also imports copper concentrates that are processed in the country. In January, China imported 1.62 million metric tons of copper concentrates—compared to 1.65 million metric tons in December 2017 and 1.25 million metric tons in January 2017.

China is banning some grades of copper scrap this year. The ban could lead to a short-term disruption. The scrap flows might take some time to find alternate locations. We could also see an increase in China’s imports of refined copper (GLEN-L) and copper concentrates due to the scrap ban.

Visit Market Realist’s Metals and Mining page for ongoing updates on this industry.


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