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WMS Press Release May 2016
18/05/2016

January to March 2016 METALS BALANCES


Primary aluminium market almost balanced in January to February 2016

The calculated market balance for primary aluminium for January to March 2016 was a small surplus of 48 kt which follows a deficit of 308 kt recorded for the whole of 2015. Demand for primary aluminium for January to March 2016 was 13.28 million tonnes 664 kt less than the first three months of 2015. Production in January to March 2016 fell by 656 kt compared with 2015. Producer stock data is no longer published and total reported stocks rose by 17 kt during March and at the end of the month were 3653 kt which equated to 23 days demand and compares with 3787 kt at the end of 2015. Total stocks held in the four exchanges in London, Shanghai, USA and Tokyo were 3146 kt at the end of March 2016 which was 87 kt below the December 2015 total. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for large unreported stock changes especially those held in Asia.

Overall, global production fell in January to March 2016 by 4.7 per cent compared with the first three months of 2015. Chinese output was estimated at 6821 kt and this currently accounts for more than 51 per cent of the World production total. Chinese apparent demand was 9.3 per cent lower than 2015. Chinese net exports were 106 kt in January to March and net exports for the whole of 2015 were 342 kt. Net exports of aluminium semi manufactures from China have fallen from 1098 kt in January to March 2015 to 948 kt in the first three months of 2016.

Production in the EU28 rose by 2.7 per cent and NAFTA output fell by 2.9 per cent. EU28 demand was 95 kt lower than the comparable 2015 total. Global demand fell by 4.8 per cent during January to March compared with the levels recorded one year previously.

In March 2016, primary aluminium production was 4451.9 kt and consumption was 4417.9 kt.

Copper market records surplus in January to March 2016

The copper market recorded a surplus of 77 kt in January to March 2016 which follows a surplus of 463 kt in the whole of 2015. Reported stocks rose during March and closed 52 kt higher than at the end of December 2015. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes, particularly in the Chinese government stockpile.

World mine production in January to March 2016 was 4.85 million tonnes which was 5.2 per cent higher than in the same period in 2015. Global refined production rose to 5.76 million tonnes up 3.2 per cent compared with the previous year with a significant increase recorded in China (up 79 kt) and Chile (up 32 kt).

Global consumption for January to March 2016 was 5683 kt compared with 5313 kt for the same months of 2015. Chinese apparent consumption in January to March 2016 rose by 293 kt to 2760 kt compared to the same months of 2015 which represented 49 per cent of global demand. EU28 production fell by 2.1 per cent and demand was 899 kt, 13.8 per cent above the January to March 2015 total.

In March 2016, refined copper production was 1924.1 kt and consumption was 1969.5 kt.

Lead market records surplus in January to March 2016

The lead market was in surplus by 8.5 kt in January to March 2016 which follows a deficit of 6.5 kt recorded in the whole of 2015. Total stocks at the end of March were 28 kt lower than at the end of 2015. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes.

World refined production during January to March 2016 from both primary and secondary sources was 2516 kt which was 0.6 per cent higher than in the comparable months of 2015. Global demand was 12 kt higher. Apparent consumption in China totalled 910 kt of lead in January to March 2016 which was 38 kt below the comparable period in 2015 and represented over 36 per cent of the global total. For the USA, apparent demand has increased by 1 kt for January to March 2016 compared to January to March 2015.

In March 2016, refined lead production was 835.2 kt and consumption was 842.2 kt.




Zinc market records surplus in January to March 2016

The zinc market was in surplus by 90 kt during January to March 2016 which compares with a surplus of 118 kt recorded in the whole of the previous year. Reported stocks rose by 51 kt during the three month period. LME stocks fell by 40 kt in March and ended the month 28 kt lower than at the end of 2015. LME stocks represent 38 per cent of the global total. Chinese demand rose by 0.2 per cent compared with the previous year. Production of locally refined metal in China fell by 6.0 per cent compared with 2015. Chinese imports of mostly special high grade metal were 77 kt in March which brought the year to date figure to 181kt, 99 kt higher than in January to March 2015.

Global refined production fell by 6.4 per cent and consumption fell by 3.9 per cent compared with the levels recorded one year earlier. Japanese demand was, at 104 kt, 23.3 per cent below the equivalent total for January to March 2015.

World demand was 126 kt lower than for January to March 2015. Chinese apparent demand was 1430 kt which is over 45 per cent of the global total. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes.

In March 2016 slab zinc production was 1074.5 and consumption 1038.3 kt.

Nickel market records small deficit in January to March 2016

The nickel market was in deficit during January to March 2016 with apparent demand exceeding production by 8.4 kt. In the whole of 2015 the calculated surplus was 33.6 kt. Reported stocks held in the LME at the end of March were 9.5 kt lower than at the end of the previous year. Refined production in January to March totalled 409.8 kt and demand was 418.2 kt.

Mine production during January to March was 517.3 kt, 14 kt below the comparable 2015 total. The Indonesian export ban and the assumed drastic decline in local mine production began at the start of 2014. Japanese smelter/refinery output increased by 5.0 kt compared with 2015 and apparent demand was 2.2 kt higher than in the previous year.

World apparent demand was 67 kt higher than the previous year. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes

In March 2016, nickel smelter/refinery production was 136.6 kt and consumption was 146.6 kt.


Tin market records deficit in January to March 2016

The tin market recorded a deficit of 2.0 kt during January to March 2016 and there were no DLA deliveries during the period. Total reported stocks rose during March and ended the period 1.1 kt lower than December 2015.

Global reported production of refined metal (excluding re-processed LME metal) was up by 3.6 kt, compared with January to March 2015. Production in Asia increased from 69.6 kt in January to March 2015 to 74.4 kt in the comparable period in 2016. Apparent demand in China was 4.6 per cent higher than the equivalent period of the previous year.

Global tin demand during January to March 2016 was 90 kt which was 2.6 per cent above the comparable period of 2015. Japanese consumption was 6.3 kt which was 1.1 kt below the comparable total for 2015.

In March 2016, refined production was 29.8 kt and demand was 30.8 kt


Dated 18th May 2016
- ENDS-






The above data are taken from World Metal Statistics May 2016 published today.

Editors requiring more detailed information should contact Sue Eales by email at suee@world-bureau.co.uk or by telephone +44 (0) 1920 461274




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