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Press Release May 2019
22/05/2019

January to March 2019 METALS BALANCES

Primary aluminium market in tiny deficit in January to March 2019

The calculated market balance for primary aluminium for January to March 2019 was a deficit of 2 kt which follows a deficit of 969 kt recorded for the whole of 2018. Demand for primary aluminium for January to March 2019 was 15.32 million tonnes, 328 kt more than in the same three months of 2018. Production in January to March 2019 rose by 491 kt compared with the same period in 2018. Producer stock data is no longer published and total reported stocks fell during March and closed at the end of the month 108 kt below the December 2018 level. Total LME stocks fell during March, mainly in the Netherlands (-25 kt), Malaysia (-44 kt) and South Korea (-23 kt). Total stocks at the end of March 2019 were 2321 kt which compares with 2429 kt at the end of 2018. Total stocks held in the four exchanges in London, Shanghai, USA and Tokyo were 1864 kt at the end of March 2019 which were 88 kt lower than in December 2018 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 March 2019 by 3.3 per cent compared with the first three months of 2018. Chinese output was estimated at 8567 kt and this currently accounts for 56 per cent of the world production total. Chinese apparent demand was 7.6 per cent higher than in January to March 2018. Chinese net exports of unwrought aluminium were 110 kt during January to March 2019 which compares with 103 kt in the comparable period in 2018. January to March 2019 net exports of aluminium semi manufactures were 1209 kt which compares with 1043 kt for the first three months of 2018.

Production in the EU28 was 3.0 per cent lower than the previous year and NAFTA output rose by 6.5 per cent. EU28 demand was 44 kt higher than the comparable 2018 total. Global demand rose by 2.3 per cent during January to March 2019 compared with the levels recorded one year previously.

In March 2019, primary aluminium production was 5149.4 kt and consumption was 5243.2 kt.

Copper market records surplus in January to March 2019

The copper market recorded a surplus of 241 kt in January to March 2019 which follows a deficit of 43 kt in the whole of 2018. Reported stocks rose each month in the first quarter and closed at the end of March 115 kt higher than at the end of December 2018. These increases included net deliveries of 36 kt into the LME warehouses and net deliveries of 143 kt into Shanghai warehouses. Comex stocks dropped by 60 kt over the quarter. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes, particularly in the Chinese government stockpile.

World mine production in January to March 2019 was 4.99 million tonnes which was 0.6 per cent lower than in the same period in 2018. Global refined production for January to March 2019 was 5.53 million tonnes down 6.5 per cent compared with the previous year with significant decreases recorded in India (down 98 kt) and in Chile (down 85 kt).

Global consumption for January to March 2019 was 5.29 million tonnes compared with 5.72 million tonnes for the same months of 2018. Chinese apparent demand for the period January to March 2019 was 2653 kt which was 6 per cent lower than the first three months of 2018. EU28 production fell by 3.1 per cent and demand was 765 kt, 9.6 per cent below the January to March 2018 total.

In March 2019, refined copper production was 1893.8 kt and consumption was 1800.0 kt.

Lead market records deficit in January to March 2019

The lead market recorded a deficit of 119 kt in January to March 2019 which follows a deficit of 278 kt recorded in the whole of 2018. Total stocks at the end of March were 7 kt lower than at the end of 2018. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes.

World refined production during January to March 2019 from both primary and secondary sources was 3090 kt which was 6.6 per cent higher than in the comparable months of 2018 Chinese apparent demand was estimated at 1486 kt which was 242 kt higher than the comparable period in 2018 and represented about 46 per cent of the global total. For the USA, apparent demand has increased by 10 kt for January to March 2019 compared to the same months of 2018.

In March 2019, refined lead production was 1048.9 kt and consumption was 1099.3 kt.


Zinc market records surplus in January to March 2019

The zinc market was in surplus by 96.4 kt during January to March 2019 which compares with a surplus of 73.9 kt recorded in the whole of the previous year. Reported stocks decreased by 12 kt during January to March with a net increase in Shanghai of 90 kt over the period. LME stocks fell in each month of the quarter and closed at 78 kt below the December 2018 level. LME stocks represent 9 per cent of the global total with the bulk of the metal held in US and Dutch warehouses.

Global refined production fell by 4.7 per cent and consumption was also 4.8 per cent lower than the levels recorded one year earlier. Japanese apparent demand was, at 120.9 kt, 12.6 per cent below the equivalent total for January to March 2018.

World demand was 156 kt lower than for January to March 2018. Chinese apparent demand was 1405 kt which is over 45 per cent of the global total. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes.

In March 2019, slab zinc production was 1089.2 kt and consumption 989.0 kt.
Nickel market records deficit in January to March 2019

The nickel market was in deficit during January to March 2019 with apparent demand exceeding production by 23.2 kt. In the whole of 2018 the calculated deficit was 90 kt. WBMS has revised its estimated demand for Indonesia for the last three years which has changed the market balances for the period. Reported stocks held in the LME at the end of March 2019 were 23.9 kt lower than at the end of the previous year. Refined production in January to March 2019 totalled 512.0 kt and demand was 535.3 kt.

Mine production during January to March was 534.8 kt, 45 kt above the comparable 2018 total. Chinese smelter/refinery output increased by 14 kt compared with 2018 and apparent demand was 16 kt higher than in the previous year.

World apparent demand was 10 kt higher than the previous year. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes

In March 2019, nickel smelter/refinery production was 177.7 kt and consumption was 180.7kt.


Tin market records deficit in January to March 2019

The tin market recorded a deficit of 4.2 kt during January to March 2019 and there were no DLA deliveries during the period. Total reported stocks were 1.0 kt lower than at the end of 2018.

Global reported production of refined metal was down by 2.1 kt, compared with the January to March 2018 total. Production in Asia was 2.6 kt lower than the January to March 2018 total. Apparent demand in China was 5.8 per cent lower than the equivalent period of the previous year.

Global tin demand during January to March 2019 was 91.6 kt which was 1.9 per cent below the comparable period of 2018. Japanese consumption was 7.1 kt which was 12.2 per cent below the comparable total for January to March 2018.

In March 2019, refined production was 30.4 kt and consumption was 32.4 kt


Dated 22nd May 2019


- ENDS-






The above data are taken from World Metal Statistics May 2019 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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