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WBMS Press Release September 2020
16/09/2020

January to July 2020 METALS BALANCES

Please note that the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic has had a dramatic effect on both the supply and demand for metals worldwide. The true impact of the lockdown in many countries will emerge over the next few months. Demand for most countries is calculated on an apparent basis. Metal shipments are in transit for some weeks and stock levels are under reported and so it is likely that the demand for all metals will be overstated for the next few months.

Primary aluminium market in surplus in January to July 2020

The calculated market balance for primary aluminium for the period or January to July 2020 was a surplus of 1148 kt which follows a surplus of 514 kt recorded for the whole of 2019. Demand for primary aluminium for January to July 2020 was 37.42 million tonnes, 213 kt more than in the comparable period in 2019. Demand is measured on an apparent basis and it is likely that the full effects of national lockdowns have not been fully reflected in the trade statistics. Production in January to July 2020 rose by 3.6 per cent. Total reported stocks rose during the first seven months of the year to close at the end of the period 244 kt above the December 2019 level. Shanghai stocks rose steadily in the early months but fell by 300 kt in the second quarter and closed at the end of July at 221.8 kt. This compares with 185.1 at the end of December 2019. LME stocks were 1632 kt which compares with 1473 kt at the end of 2019. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for large unreported stock changes especially those held in Asia.

Overall, global production rose in January to July 2020 by 3.6 per cent compared with the first seven months of 2019. Chinese output was estimated at 21,113 kt based on higher availability of imported bauxite and alumina, and this currently accounts for about 55 per cent of the world production total. Chinese apparent demand was 7.5 per cent higher than in January to July 2019 and the output of semi-manufactures rose by 8.8 per cent. China became a net importer of unwrought aluminium in 2020. During January to July 2020 Chinese net exports of aluminium semi manufactures were 2431 kt which compares with 2899 kt for January to July 2019. Exports of semi manufactures fell by 14 per cent compared with the January to July 2019 total.

Production for January to July in the EU28 was 0.4 per cent higher than the previous year and NAFTA output increased by 4.3 per cent. EU28 demand was 818 kt lower than the comparable 2019 total. Global demand rose by 0.6 per cent during January to July 2020 compared with the levels recorded one year previously.

In July 2020, primary aluminium production was 5739.8 kt and demand was 5660.6 kt.

Copper market in deficit in January to July 2020

The copper market recorded a deficit of 229 kt in January to July 2020 which follows a deficit of 255 kt in the whole of 2019. Reported stocks at the end of July 2020 were 75 kt higher than at the end of December 2019. This increase includes net deliveries of 18 kt out of LME warehouses and Comex stocks rose by 44.6 kt. Shanghai stocks rose by 35.9 kt during January and July. Demand is measured on an apparent basis and it is likely that the full effects of national lockdowns have not been fully reflected in the trade statistics. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes, particularly in the Chinese government stockpile.

World mine production in January to July 2020 was 11.74 million tonnes which was 0.1 per cent higher than in the same period in 2019. Global refined production for January to July 2020 was 13.84 million tonnes up 4.1 per cent compared with the previous year with significant increases recorded in China (up 528 kt) and in Chile (up 134 kt).

Global demand for January to July 2020 was 14.1 million tonnes compared with 13.6 million tonnes for the same months of 2019. Chinese apparent demand for the period January to July 2020 was 8.01 kt which was 16.1 per cent higher than the first seven months of 2019. EU28 production rose by 0.4 per cent and demand was 174 kt lower than the comparable 2019 total.

In July 2020, refined copper production was 1980.9 kt and demand was 2098.9 kt.

Lead market records surplus in January to July 2020

The lead market recorded a surplus of 72 kt in January to July 2020 which follows a deficit of 243 kt recorded in the whole of 2019. Total stocks at the end of July were 44 kt higher than at the end of 2019. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes. Demand is measured on an apparent basis and it is likely that the full effects of national lockdowns have not been fully reflected in the trade statistics.

World refined production during January to July 2020 from both primary and secondary sources was 7371 kt which was 2.9 per cent higher than in the comparable months of 2019. Chinese apparent demand was estimated at 3393.9 kt which was 130 kt higher than the comparable period in 2019 and represented about 47 per cent of the global total. For the USA, apparent demand has decreased by 76 kt for January to July 2020 compared to the same months of 2019.

In July 2020, refined lead production was 1097.3 kt and demand was 1058.8 kt.

Zinc market records surplus in January to July 2020

The zinc market was in surplus by 210 kt during January to July 2020 which compares with a deficit of 74 kt recorded in the whole of the previous year. Reported stocks increased by 210 kt during January to July which included a net increase in Shanghai of 60 kt over the period. LME stocks rose over the January to July period to close 137 kt above the December 2019 level. LME stocks represent 27 per cent of the global total with the bulk of the metal held in Asian and Dutch warehouses. Demand is measured on an apparent basis and it is likely that the full effects of national lockdowns have not been fully reflected in the trade statistics.

Global refined production rose by 2.1 per cent and demand was 0.8 per cent lower than the levels recorded one year earlier. Japanese apparent demand was, at 245 kt, 18.5 per cent below the equivalent total for January to July 2019.

World demand was 63 kt lower than for January to July 2019. Chinese apparent demand was 3893 kt which is 50 per cent of the global total. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes.

In July 2020 slab zinc production was 1147.9 kt and demand 1128.8 kt.

Nickel market records surplus in January to July 2020

The nickel market was in surplus during January to July 2020 with production exceeding apparent demand by 33 kt. In the whole of 2019, the calculated deficit was 26.9 kt. Reported stocks held in the LME at the end of July 2020 were 81.9 kt higher than at the end of the previous year. Refined production in January to July 2020 totalled 1290.6 kt and demand was 1257.4 kt.

Mine production during January to July was 1242.3 kt, 177 kt below the comparable 2019 total. Chinese smelter/refinery output fell by 82 kt compared with 2019 and apparent demand was 647.9 kt, 46 kt lower than in the previous year.

World apparent demand was 109 kt lower than the previous year. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes. Demand is measured on an apparent basis and it is likely that the full effects of national lockdowns have not been fully reflected in the trade statistics.

In July 2020, nickel smelter/refinery production was 210.8 kt and demand was 204.9 kt.


Tin market records deficit in January to July 2020

The tin market recorded a deficit of 18.5 kt during January to July 2020 and there were no DLA deliveries during the period. Chinese demand is calculated on an apparent basis using reported stocks on the Shanghai exchange. Total reported stocks were 9.4 kt lower than at the end of 2019. Demand is measured on an apparent basis and it is likely that the full effects of national lockdowns have not been fully reflected in the trade statistics.

Global reported production of refined metal was down by 22.9 kt, compared with the January to July 2019 total. Apparent demand in China was 1.8 per cent lower than the equivalent period of the previous year.

Global tin demand during January to July 2020 was 211.4 kt which was 4.3 per cent lower than the comparable period of 2019. Japanese demand was 12.6 kt which was 21.5 per cent below the comparable total for January to July 2019.

In July 2020, refined production was 27.0 kt and consumption was 28.7 kt


Dated 16th September 2020


- ENDS-





The above data are taken from World Metal Statistics September 2020 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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Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and validity of the information contained in this release WBMS and its Board of Directors can accept no responsibility for any losses incurred as a direct result of any actions based on conclusions drawn from the data.

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