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WMS Press Release July 2020
22/07/2020

January to May 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 May 2020

The calculated market balance for primary aluminium for January to May 2020 was a surplus of 908 kt which follows a surplus of 780 kt recorded for the whole of 2019. Demand for primary aluminium for January to May 2020 was 26.33 million tonnes, 285 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 May 2020 rose by 4.0 per cent. Total reported stocks rose during the first five months of the year to close at the end of the period 165 kt above the December 2019 level. Shanghai stocks rose steadily in the early months but fell by 162 kt in May 2020 to 296.3 kt. This compares with 185.1 at the end of December 2019. LME stocks were 1496 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 May 2020 by 4.0 per cent compared with the first five months of 2019. Chinese output was estimated at 14789.8 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 3.9 per cent higher than in January to May 2019 and the output of semi-manufactures rose by 6.4 per cent. China became a net importer of unwrought aluminium in 2020. During January to May 2020 Chinese net exports of aluminium semi manufactures were 1786 kt which compares with 2062 kt for January to May 2019. Exports of semi manufactures fell by almost 14 per cent compared with the April 2020 total.

Production for January to May in the EU28 was 2.2 per cent lower than the previous year and NAFTA output increased by 4.5 per cent. EU28 demand was 554 kt lower than the comparable 2019 total. Global demand rose by 1.1 per cent during January to May 2020 compared with the levels recorded one year previously.

In May 2020, primary aluminium production was 5449.2 kt and demand was 5387.8 kt.

Copper market in deficit in January to May 2020

The copper market recorded a deficit of 18 kt in January to May 2020 which follows a deficit of 267 kt in the whole of 2019. Reported stocks rose during the first quarter but fell back slightly in April and May to close 170 kt higher than at the end of December 2019. This increase includes net deliveries of 111.0 kt into the LME warehouses and Comex stocks rose by 17.6 kt . Shanghai stocks rose by 21.4 kt during January and May. 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 May 2020 was 8.24 million tonnes which was 0.1 per cent lower than in the same period in 2019. Global refined production for January to May 2020 was 9.8 million tonnes up 6.1 per cent compared with the previous year with significant increases recorded in China (up 468 kt) and in Chile (up 107 kt).

Global demand for January to May 2020 was 9.86 million tonnes compared with 9.61 million tonnes for the same months of 2019. Chinese apparent demand for the period January to May 2020 was 5320 kt which was 9.8 per cent higher than the first five months of 2019. EU28 production fell by 2.2 per cent and demand was 106 kt lower than the comparable 2019 total.

In May 2020, refined copper production was 2007.1 kt and demand was 2061.7 kt.

Lead market records deficit in January to May 2020

The lead market recorded a deficit of 10 kt in January to May 2020 which follows a deficit of 238 kt recorded in the whole of 2019. Total stocks at the end of May were 25 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 May 2020 from both primary and secondary sources was 4992 kt which was 1.5 per cent lower than in the comparable months of 2019. Chinese apparent demand was estimated at 2212.9 kt which was 130 kt lower than the comparable period in 2019 and represented about 44 per cent of the global total. For the USA, apparent demand has decreased by 19 kt for January to May 2020 compared to the same months of 2019.

In May 2020, refined lead production was 1061.3 kt and demand was 1039.4 kt.


Zinc market records surplus in January to May 2020

The zinc market was in surplus by 126 kt during January to May 2020 which compares with a deficit of 63 kt recorded in the whole of the previous year. Reported stocks increased by 132 kt during January to May which included a net increase in Shanghai of 79 kt over the period. LME stocks rose over the January to May period to close 48 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 2.1 per cent and demand was 0.7 per cent lower than the levels recorded one year earlier. Japanese apparent demand was, at 196 kt, almost 10 per cent below the equivalent total for January to May 2019.

World demand was 41 kt lower than for January to May 2019. Chinese apparent demand was 2627 kt which is 48 per cent of the global total. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes.

In May 2020 slab zinc production was 1124.5 kt and demand 1122.0 kt.

Nickel market records surplus in January to May 2020

The nickel market was in surplus during January to May 2020 with production exceeding apparent demand by 33.3 kt. In the whole of 2019, the calculated deficit was 29.1 kt. Reported stocks held in the LME at the end of May 2020 were 80.2 kt higher than at the end of the previous year. Refined production in January to May 2020 totalled 890.6 kt and demand was 857.3 kt.

Mine production during January to May was 868.9 kt, 115 kt below the comparable 2019 total. Chinese smelter/refinery output fell by 69 kt compared with 2019 and apparent demand was 408.4 kt, 50 kt lower than in the previous year.

World apparent demand was 92.9 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 May 2020, nickel smelter/refinery production was 179.0 kt and demand was 165.8 kt.


Tin market records deficit in January to May 2020

The tin market recorded a deficit of 17.5 kt during January to May 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 9.2 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 7.7 kt, compared with the January to May 2019 total. Apparent demand in China was 7 per cent higher than the equivalent period of the previous year.

Global tin demand during January to May 2020 was 157.6 kt which was 5.2 per cent higher than the comparable period of 2019. Japanese demand was 9.5 kt which was 16.7 per cent below the comparable total for January to May 2019.

In May 2020, refined production was 27.2 kt and consumption was 32.1 kt


Dated 22nd July 2020


- ENDS-






The above data are taken from World Metal Statistics July 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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