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Press Release June 2020
17/06/2020

January to April 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 April 2020

The calculated market balance for primary aluminium for January to April 2020 was a surplus of 1098 kt which follows a surplus of 749 kt recorded for the whole of 2019. Demand for primary aluminium for January to April 2020 was 20.67 million tonnes, 199 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 April 2020 rose by 4.6 per cent. Total reported stocks rose during March and April to close at the end of the period 163 kt above the December 2019 level. Shanghai stocks rose steadily in the first quarter from 185 kt in December 2019 to 528 kt at the end of March. They then fell back to 458 kt in April. LME stocks were 1356 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 April 2020 by 4.6 per cent compared with the first four months of 2019. Chinese output was estimated at 11810 kt based on higher availability of imported bauxite and alumina, and this currently accounts for about 54 per cent of the world production total. Chinese apparent demand was 3.61 per cent higher than in January to April 2019 and the output of semi-manufactures rose by 5 per cent. China became a net importer of unwrought aluminium in the first third of the year. During January to April 2020 Chinese net exports of aluminium semi manufactures were 1446 kt which compares with 1606 kt for January to April 2019.

Production for January to March in the EU28 was 1.7 per cent lower than the previous year and NAFTA output rose by 4.2 per cent. EU28 demand was 331 kt lower than the comparable 2019 total. Global demand rose by 1 per cent during January to April 2020 compared with the levels recorded one year previously.

In April 2020, primary aluminium production was 5394.1 kt and demand was 5262.5 kt.

Copper market in tiny deficit in January to April 2020

The copper market recorded a deficit of 2.4 kt in January to April 2020 which follows a deficit of 268 kt in the whole of 2019. Reported stocks rose during the first quarter but fell back slightly in April to close 247 kt higher than at the end of December 2019. This increase includes net deliveries of 106.8 kt into the LME warehouses and Comex stocks rose by 2.2 kt . Shanghai stocks rose by 135.4 kt during January and April. 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 April 2020 was 6.62 million tonnes which was 1.9 per cent higher than in the same period in 2019. Global refined production for January to April 2020 was 7.9 million tonnes up 6.2 per cent compared with the previous year with significant increases recorded in China (up 326 kt) and in Chile (up 80 kt).

Global demand for January to April 2020 was 7.85 million tonnes compared with 7.74 million tonnes for the same months of 2019. Chinese apparent demand for the period January to April 2020 was 4056 kt which was 3.6 per cent higher than the first four months of 2019. EU28 production fell by 5 per cent and demand was 92 kt lower than the comparable 2019 total.

In April 2020, refined copper production was 1952.0 kt and demand was 2116.2 kt.

Lead market records deficit in January to April 2020

The lead market recorded a deficit of 83 kt in January to April 2020 which follows a deficit of 237 kt recorded in the whole of 2019. Total stocks at the end of April were 35 kt lower 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 April 2020 from both primary and secondary sources was 3896 kt which was 4.6 per cent lower than in the comparable months of 2019. Chinese apparent demand was estimated at 1687 kt which was 213 kt lower than the comparable period in 2019 and represented about 42 per cent of the global total. For the USA, apparent demand has decreased by 16 kt for January to April 2020 compared to the same months of 2019.

In April 2020, refined lead production was 1023.4 kt and demand was 1058.9 kt.


Zinc market records surplus in January to April 2020

The zinc market was in surplus by 51 kt during January to April 2020 which compares with a deficit of 75 kt recorded in the whole of the previous year. Reported stocks increased by 151 kt during January to April which included a net increase in Shanghai of 105 kt over the period. LME stocks rose over the January to April period to close 50 kt above the December 2019 level. LME stocks represent 16 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 2.5 per cent and demand was 0.7 per cent higher than the levels recorded one year earlier. Japanese apparent demand was, at 167 kt, 6 per cent below the equivalent total for January to April 2019.

World demand was 28 kt higher than for January to April 2019. Chinese apparent demand was 2046 kt which is 46 per cent of the global total. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes.

In April 2020 slab zinc production was 1076.4 kt and demand 1130.5 kt.

Nickel market records surplus in January to April 2020

The nickel market was in surplus during January to April 2020 with production exceeding apparent demand by 14.4 kt. In the whole of 2019, the calculated deficit was 17.9 kt. Reported stocks held in the LME at the end of April 2020 were 77.4 kt higher than at the end of the previous year. Refined production in January to April 2020 totalled 711 kt and demand was 697 kt.

Mine production during January to April was 688.7 kt, 74 kt below the comparable 2019 total. Chinese smelter/refinery output fell by 30 kt compared with 2019 and apparent demand was 324.4 kt, 15 kt lower than in the previous year.

World apparent demand was 31.4 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 April 2020, nickel smelter/refinery production was 168.4 kt and demand was 173.4 kt.


Tin market records deficit in January to April 2020

The tin market recorded a deficit of 12 kt during January to April 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 8.8 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 1.9 kt, compared with the January to April 2019 total. Apparent demand in China was 11 per cent higher than the equivalent period of the previous year.

Global tin demand during January to April 2020 was 126.7 kt which was 5.3 per cent higher than the comparable period of 2019. Japanese demand was 7.3 kt which was 19 per cent below the comparable total for January to April 2019.

In April 2020, refined production was 28.1 kt and consumption was 31.6 kt


Dated 17th June 2020


- ENDS-






The above data are taken from World Metal Statistics June 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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