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Press Release October 2018
17/10/2018

January to August 2018 METALS BALANCES

Primary aluminium market in deficit in January to August 2018

The calculated market balance for primary aluminium for January to August was a deficit of 643 kt which follows a deficit of 1153 kt recorded for the whole of 2017. Second quarter trade data for China is not available for technical reasons. Demand for primary aluminium for January to August 2018 was 40.5 million tonnes 148 kt less than in the same eight months of 2017. Production in January to August 2018 rose by 143 kt compared with the same period in 2017. Producer stock data is no longer published and total reported stocks fell by 136 kt during August and closed at the end of the month 98kt above the December 2017 level. LME stocks fell by 127 kt during August mostly due to decreases in Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Netherlands. Total stocks at the end of August 2018 were 2444 kt which compares with 2346 kt at the end of 2017. Total stocks held in the four exchanges in London, Shanghai, USA and Tokyo were 1959 kt at the end of August 2018 which were 16 kt higher than in December 2017 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 August 2018 by 0.4 per cent compared with the first eight months of 2017. Chinese output was estimated at 22323 kt and this currently accounts for 56 per cent of the world production total. Chinese apparent demand was 0.6 per cent higher than in January to August 2017. Chinese net exports were 103 kt in January to March and net exports of unwrought aluminium for the whole of 2017 were 365 kt.

Production in the EU28 was 0.5 per cent higher than the previous year and NAFTA output fell by 5.0 per cent. EU28 demand was 236 kt higher than the comparable 2017 total. Global demand fell by 0.4 per cent during January to August 2018 compared with the levels recorded one year previously.

In August 2018, primary aluminium production was 5134.2 kt and consumption was 5262.8 kt.

Copper market records deficit in January to August 2018

The copper market recorded a deficit of 25.3 kt in January to August 2018 which follows a surplus of 93.8 kt in the whole of 2017. Reported stocks fell during August and closed 31 kt higher than at the end of December 2017. These decreases included net deliveries of 30 kt out LME warehouses in Asia. Asian LME stocks reached a peak for the year so far of 217.8 kt in March 2018. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes, particularly in the Chinese government stockpile.

World mine production in January to August 2018 was 13.57 million tonnes which was 1.4 per cent higher than in the same period in 2017. Global refined production for January to August 2018 was 15.57 million tonnes up 0.6 per cent compared with the previous year with a significant increase recorded in China (up 40 kt) and in Chile (up 67 kt).

Global consumption for January to August 2018 was 15.60. million tonnes compared with 15.43 million tonnes for the same months of 2017. WBMS estimates that imports of refined copper into China were about 370 kt in August bringing the year to date figure to 3.0 million tonnes. Chinese estimated demand for January to August 2018 was 8123 kt which was 6 per cent above the previous year’s total and represented just over 52 per cent of the global total. EU28 production fell by 1.33 per cent and demand was 2352 kt, 4.2 per cent above the January to August 2017 total.

In August 2018, refined copper production was 1943.1 kt and consumption was 1971.5 kt.

Lead market records deficit in January to August 2018

The lead market recorded a deficit of 87.9 kt in January to August 2018 which follows a deficit of 393 kt recorded in the whole of 2017. Total stocks at the end of August were 36.7 kt lower than at the end of 2017. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes.

World refined production during January to August 2018 from both primary and secondary sources was 7567 kt which was 1.55 per cent higher than in the comparable months of 2017. Chinese demand was estimated at 101 kt below the comparable period in 2017 and represented just under 41 per cent of the global total. For the USA, apparent demand has decreased by 10 kt for January to August 2018 compared to the same months of 2017.

In August 2018, refined lead production was 951.1 kt and consumption was 960.6 kt.


Zinc market records surplus in January to August 2018

The zinc market was in surplus by 20.6 kt during January to August 2018 which compares with a deficit of 439 kt recorded in the whole of the previous year. Reported stocks rose by 16 kt during January to August with a net decrease in Shanghai of 39 kt over the period. LME stocks rose earlier in the year, declined by 11.1 kt during July and rose slightly in August closing at 239.2 kt which compares with 181 kt at the end of 2017. LME stocks represent 36 per cent of the global total with the bulk of the metal held in US warehouses. Second quarter trade data for China is not available for technical reasons.

Global refined production fell by 2.0 per cent and consumption was 5.4 per cent lower than the levels recorded one year earlier. Japanese apparent demand was, at 346.3 kt, 7.5 per cent above the equivalent total for January to August 2017. The March figure was higher than usual due to a decline of 9.3 kt in producer stocks at the end of the Japanese fiscal year.

World demand was 497 kt lower than for January to August 2017. Chinese apparent demand was 3963 kt which is 45 per cent of the global total. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes.

In August 2018 slab zinc production was 1067.3 kt and consumption 1070.4 kt.

Nickel market records deficit in January to August 2018

The Nickel market was in deficit during January to August 2018 with apparent demand exceeding production by 56.3 kt. In the whole of 2017 the calculated deficit was 46.3 kt. Reported stocks held in the LME at the end of August 2018 were 16 kt higher than at the end of the previous year. Refined production in January to July 2018 totalled 1087.8 kt and demand was 1131.1 kt.

Mine production during January to August was 1468 kt, 160 kt above the comparable 2017 total. Chinese smelter/refinery output increased by 3 kt compared with 2017 and apparent demand was 19 kt higher than in the previous year.

World apparent demand was 104 kt higher than the previous year. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes

In August 2018, nickel smelter/refinery production was 176.4 kt and consumption was 187.0 kt.


Tin market records deficit in January to August 2018

The tin market recorded a deficit of 7.7 kt during January to August 2018 and there were no DLA deliveries during the period. Total reported stocks were 1.8 kt higher than at the end of 2017.

Global reported production of refined metal was down by 5 kt, compared with the January to August 2017 total. Production in Asia was 5.3 kt lower than the January to August 2017 total. Apparent demand in China was 8 per cent lower than the equivalent period of the previous year.

Global tin demand during January to August was 249.0 kt which was 0.5 per cent below the comparable period of 2017. Japanese consumption was 19.0 kt which was 1.0 kt below the comparable total for January to August 2017.

In August 2018 refined production was 30.9 kt and consumption was 31.7kt


Dated 17th October 2018


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The above data are taken from World Metal Statistics October 2018 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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