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Press Release August 2020
19/08/2020

January to June 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 June 2020

The calculated market balance for primary aluminium for the period or January to June 2020 was a surplus of 1335 kt which follows a surplus of 735 kt recorded for the whole of 2019. Demand for primary aluminium for January to June 2020 was 31.58 million tonnes, 190 kt less 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 June 2020 rose by 3.1 per cent. Total reported stocks rose during the first six months of the year to close at the end of the period 254 kt above the December 2019 level. Shanghai stocks rose steadily in the early months but fell by 162 kt in May and June 2020 to end the period at 223.7 kt. This compares with 185.1 at the end of December 2019. LME stocks were 1638.3 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 June 2020 by 3.1 per cent compared with the first half of 2019. Chinese output was estimated at 17868 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 4.8 per cent higher than in January to June 2019 and the output of semi-manufactures rose by 9.7 per cent. China became a net importer of unwrought aluminium in 2020. During January to June 2020 Chinese net exports of aluminium semi manufactures were 2101 kt which compares with 2485 kt for January to June 2019. Exports of semi manufactures fell by almost 14 per cent compared with the January to June 2019 total.

Production for January to June 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 698 kt lower than the comparable 2019 total. Global demand fell by 0.6 per cent during January to June 2020 compared with the levels recorded one year previously.

In June 2020, primary aluminium production was 5581.5 kt and demand was 5427.3 kt.

Copper market in deficit in January to June 2020

The copper market recorded a deficit of 155 kt in January to June 2020 which follows a deficit of 267 kt in the whole of 2019. Reported stocks at the end of June 2020 were 100 kt higher than at the end of December 2019. This increase includes net deliveries of 69 kt into the LME warehouses and Comex stocks rose by 34.5 kt . Shanghai stocks fell by 23.6 kt during January and June. 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 June 2020 was 10.05 million tonnes which was 0.7 per cent higher than in the same period in 2019. Global refined production for January to June 2020 was 11.85 million tonnes up 5.1 per cent compared with the previous year with significant increases recorded in China (up 519 kt) and in Chile (up 131 kt).

Global demand for January to June 2020 was 12.0 million tonnes compared with 11.56 million tonnes for the same months of 2019. Chinese apparent demand for the period January to June 2020 was 6705 kt which was 14.9 per cent higher than the first six months of 2019. EU28 production fell by 2.1 per cent and demand was 149 kt lower than the comparable 2019 total.

In June 2020, refined copper production was 2000.4 kt and demand was 2163.7 kt.

Lead market records surplus in January to June 2020

The lead market recorded a surplus of 36 kt in January to June 2020 which follows a deficit of 230 kt recorded in the whole of 2019. Total stocks at the end of June were 17 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 June 2020 from both primary and secondary sources was 6105 kt which was fractionally higher than in the comparable months of 2019. Chinese apparent demand was estimated at 2785.1 kt which was 19 kt lower than the comparable period in 2019 and represented about 46 per cent of the global total. For the USA, apparent demand has decreased by 65 kt for January to June 2020 compared to the same months of 2019.

In June 2020, refined lead production was 1105.7 kt and demand was 1081.5 kt.

Zinc market records surplus in January to June 2020

The zinc market was in surplus by 177 kt during January to June 2020 which compares with a deficit of 74 kt recorded in the whole of the previous year. Reported stocks increased by 149 kt during January to June which included a net increase in Shanghai of 70 kt over the period. LME stocks rose over the January to June period to close 71 kt above the December 2019 level. LME stocks represent 19 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 1.3 per cent and demand was 1.3 per cent lower than the levels recorded one year earlier. Japanese apparent demand was, at 236 kt, almost 9 per cent below the equivalent total for January to June 2019.

World demand was 88 kt lower than for January to June 2019. Chinese apparent demand was 3220 kt which is 49 per cent of the global total. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes.

In June 2020 slab zinc production was 1128.6 kt and demand 1145.7 kt.

Nickel market records surplus in January to June 2020

The nickel market was in surplus during January to June 2020 with production exceeding apparent demand by 31 kt. In the whole of 2019, the calculated deficit was 26.9 kt. Reported stocks held in the LME at the end of June 2020 were 80.2 kt higher than at the end of the previous year. Refined production in January to June 2020 totalled 1078.1 kt and demand was 1046.8 kt.

Mine production during January to June was 1056.4 kt, 127 kt below the comparable 2019 total. Chinese smelter/refinery output fell by 70 kt compared with 2019 and apparent demand was 524.1 kt, 39 kt lower than in the previous year.

World apparent demand was 95 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 June 2020, nickel smelter/refinery production was 198.6 kt and demand was 204.4 kt.


Tin market records deficit in January to June 2020

The tin market recorded a deficit of 17.4 kt during January to June 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 8.8 kt, compared with the January to June 2019 total. Apparent demand in China was 4.6 per cent higher than the equivalent period of the previous year.

Global tin demand during January to June 2020 was 183.3 kt which was 0.1 per cent lower than the comparable period of 2019. Japanese demand was 11.0 kt which was 17.9 per cent below the comparable total for January to June 2019.

In June 2020, refined production was 26.9 kt and consumption was 27.4 kt


Dated 19th August 2020


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The above data are taken from World Metal Statistics August 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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