World copper demand outstrips production in Jan-Feb07

May 28 | Updated: May 29 2007, 05:30am hrs
World refined copper consumption beat production in the first two months of this year as China imported more of the industrial metal ahead of the peak demand period for the power and construction industries. Demand for the metal, used in wires and pipes, outstripped production by 39,000 metric tonne in January and February, and by 51,000 tonne in February alone, the Lisbon-based International Copper Study Group said in an e-mailed statement dated May 25.

This compares with a surplus of 53,000 tonne in the first two months of 2006. The data contrasts with an estimated first quarter copper surplus of 99,000 tonne forecast by the World Bureau of Metal Statistics on May 23, and follows a surge in imports of the metal by China which helped to boost prices by 14% this year. Chinas economy grew 11.1% in the first quarter.

Its not surprising given that Chinas copper imports surged in the first two months of the year, Wang Zheng, analyst at Shanghai Fubao Metal, said on Monday.

The International Copper Study Group on May 16 forecast a basically balanced market for the first half of 2007, with an increased surplus in the second half of the year. The world is forecast to have a copper surplus of 280,000 tonne this year, down from 330,000 tonne in 2006, before rising to 520,000 tonne next year, it said.

Global mine production may rise by 6.3% to 15.97 million tonne this year as new deposits are developed and existing operations expanded, the group said.