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WBMS Press Release April 2020
22/04/2020

January to February 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 February 2020
The calculated market balance for primary aluminium for January to February 2020 was a surplus of 684 kt which
follows a surplus of 492 kt recorded for the whole of 2019. Demand for primary aluminium for January to February
2020 was 10.4 million tonnes, 411 kt more than in the comparable period in 2019. Production in January to February
2020 rose by 8 per cent. Total reported stocks fell during January and February 2020 and closed at the end of the
period 159 kt below the December 2019 level. Total LME stocks fell in both months, mostly in Asian warehouses,
Total stocks at the end of February 2020 were 1990 kt which compares with 2149 kt at the end of 2019. Total stocks
held in the four exchanges in London, Shanghai, USA and Tokyo were 1531 kt at the end of February 2020 which
were 144 kt lower than the December 2019 total. 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 February 2020 by 8.3 per cent compared with the first two months of
2019. Chinese output was estimated at 6062 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 6.2 per
cent higher than in January to February 2019 although output of semi-manufactures fell by 14 per cent. China became
a net importer of unwrought aluminium in the first two months of the year. January to February 2020 Chinese net
exports of aluminium semi manufactures were 595 kt which compares with 761 kt for January to February 2019.
Production for January and February in the EU28 was 0.9 per cent higher than the previous year and NAFTA output
rose by 3.5 per cent. EU28 demand was 178 kt lower than the comparable 2019 total. Global demand rose by 4.1
per cent during January to February 2020 compared with the levels recorded one year previously.
In February 2020, primary aluminium production was 5539.2 kt and demand was 5143.6 kt.
Copper market surplus in January to February 2020
The copper market recorded a surplus of 98 kt in January to February 2020 which follows a deficit of 197 kt in the
whole of 2019. Reported stocks rose during January and February to close 263 kt higher than at the end of
December 2019. This increase includes net deliveries of 72.3 kt into the LME warehouses and Comex stocks
dropped by 101 kt. Shanghai stocks rose by 187 kt during January and February. No allowance is made in the
consumption calculation for unreported stock changes, particularly in the Chinese government stockpile.
World mine production in January to February 2020 was 3.48 million tonnes which was 10 per cent higher than in
the same period in 2019. Global refined production for January to February 2020 was 3.85 million tonnes up 6.5 per
cent compared with the previous year with significant increases recorded in China (up 187 kt) and in Chile (up 49 kt).
Global demand for January to February 2020 was 3.75 million tonnes compared with 3.61 million tonnes for the same
months of 2019. Chinese apparent demand for the period January to February 2020 was 1886 kt which was 8.5 per
cent higher than the first two months of 2019. EU28 production fell by 4.3 per cent and demand was 497 kt which
was 9 per cent below the January to February 2019 total.
In February 2020, refined copper production was 1864.8 kt and demand was 1857.6 kt.
Lead market records deficit in January to February 2020
The lead market recorded a deficit of 25 kt in January to February 2020 which follows a deficit of 278 kt recorded in
the whole of 2019. Total stocks at the end of February were 6 kt lower than at the end of 2019. No allowance is made
in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes.
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World refined production during January to February 2020 from both primary and secondary sources was 1875 kt which was 6 per cent lower than in the comparable months of 2019. Chinese apparent demand was estimated at 726.2 kt which was 197 kt lower than the comparable period in 2019 and represented about 38 per cent of the global total. For the USA, apparent demand has increased by 16 kt for January to February 2020 compared to the same months of 2019.
In February 2020, refined lead production was 936.6 kt and demand was 937.0 kt.
Zinc market records surplus in January to February 2020
The zinc market was in surplus by 123.1 kt during January to February 2020 which compares with a deficit of 72 kt recorded in the whole of the previous year. Reported stocks increased by 163.5 kt during January and February which included a net increase in Shanghai of 132 kt over the period. LME stocks fell slightly in January but rose again in February to close 24 kt above the December 2019 level. LME stocks represent 12 per cent of the global total with the bulk of the metal held in Taiwan and Dutch warehouses.
Global refined production rose by 8.4 per cent and demand was 1.4 per cent higher than the levels recorded one year earlier. Japanese apparent demand was, at 81.7 kt, 3.9 per cent below the equivalent total for January to February 2019.
World demand was 30 kt higher than for January to February 2019. Chinese apparent demand was 994 kt which is 46 per cent of the global total. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes.
In February 2020 slab zinc production was 1150.0 kt and demand 1063.8 kt.
Nickel market records surplus in January to February 2020
The nickel market was in surplus during January to February 2020 with production exceeding apparent demand by 20.1 kt. In the whole of 2019, the calculated deficit was 17.9 kt. Reported stocks held in the LME at the end of February 2020 were 82.1 kt higher than at the end of the previous year. Refined production in January to February 2020 totalled 366.2 kt and demand was 346.1 kt.
Mine production during January to February was 409.0 kt, 51 kt above the comparable 2019 total. Chinese smelter/refinery output increased by 8 kt compared with 2019 and apparent demand was 162.2 kt, 8 kt higher than in the previous year.
World apparent demand was 6 kt higher than the previous year. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes
In February 2020, nickel smelter/refinery production was 183.1 kt and demand was 172.1 kt.
Tin market records deficit in January to February 2020
The tin market recorded a deficit of 1.2 kt during January to February 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 1.2 kt higher than at the end of 2019 including an unexplained increase in Indonesian stocks of 6.0 kt.
Global reported production of refined metal was down by 5 kt, compared with the January to February 2020 total. Production in Asia was 6 kt lower than the January to February 2019 total. Apparent demand in China was 20 per cent lower than the equivalent period of the previous year.
Global tin demand during January to February 2020 was 52.9 kt which was 9.6 per cent below the comparable period of 2019. Japanese demand was 4.0 kt which was 15 per cent below the comparable total for January to February 2019.
In February 2020, refined production was 25.8 kt and consumption was 26.2 kt
Dated 22nd April 2020
- ENDS-
The above data are taken from World Metal Statistics April 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
Disclaimer
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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