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Global copper smelter falls in March pressured by shortages in China

LONDON, Apr 1 (Reuters) – Global copper smelting fell to the lowest levels in at least five years in March as China failed to recover after the Lunar New Year holiday due to supply shortages, data showed of satellite surveillance of copper plants.

The weakness was seen across the board as other regions, which had been hit by quarantines linked to the pandemic, were unable to make up for the decline in China, satellite service SAVANT and the Marex Spectron corridor said in a joint statement on Thursday.

“Margin pressures facing foundries due to a shortage of concentrates have been closely followed, but activity in Asia appears highly sensitive to that factor,” said Guy Wolf, global head of analytics at Marex, who helped develop SAVANT.

“Furthermore, quarantines in Europe, combined with maintenance elsewhere, have resulted in this exceptionally weak level of activity globally,” he added.

Earth-i, which specializes in geospatial data, launched its SAVANT service late last year, tracking more than 100 foundries representing 80% to 90% of global production. It sells data to fund managers, operators and miners and publishes a free monthly index of global copper smelting activity.

Its global dispersion index fell to an average of 39.8 in March from 45.8 a month earlier. That was the lowest monthly average in the data set, dating back to March 2016. According to SAVANT’s dispersion index, 50 points indicate that smelters are operating at the average level of the last 12 months.

In China, the world’s leading producer of refined copper, the index fell to 40.7 in March from 42.0 in February. Europe fell to 32.4 in March from 43.0 a month earlier, while North America fell to 32.3 from 44.1 in February.

Savant Copper Smelter Global Dispersion Index Chart


(Reporting by Eric Onstad, Edited in Spanish by Manuel Farías)

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