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WBMS Press Release February 2020
19/02/2020

January to December 2019 METALS BALANCES

Primary aluminium market in surplus in January to December 2019

The calculated market balance for primary aluminium for January to December 2019 was a surplus of 685 kt which follows a surplus of 118 kt recorded for the whole of 2018. Demand for primary aluminium for January to December 2019 was 62.27 million tonnes, 1032 kt less than in the comparable period in 2018. Production in January to December 2019 fell by 465 kt compared with the same period in 2018. Producer stock data is no longer published and total reported stocks fell slightly during December and closed at the end of the month 280 kt below the December 2018 level. Total LME stocks rose during December, mostly in Asian warehouses, Total stocks at the end of December 2019 were 2149 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 1675 kt at the end of December 2019 which were 280 kt lower than the December 2018 total. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for large unreported stock changes especially those held in Asia.

Overall, global production fell in January to December 2019 by 0.7 per cent compared with the whole of 2018. Chinese output was estimated at 35044 kt and this currently accounts for about 56 per cent of the world production total. Chinese apparent demand was 0.8 per cent lower than in January to December 2018. Chinese net exports of unwrought aluminium were 287 kt during the whole of 2019 which compares with 363 kt in the comparable period in 2018. January to December 2019 Chinese net exports of aluminium semi manufactures were 4807 kt which compares with 4691 kt for the 2018 calendar year.

Production in the EU28 was 0.7 per cent higher than the previous year and NAFTA output rose by 4.2 per cent. EU28 demand was 315 kt lower than the comparable 2018 total. Global demand fell by 1.6 per cent during January to December 2019 compared with the levels recorded one year previously.

In December 2019, primary aluminium production was 5433.2 kt and consumption was 5320.7 kt.

Copper market deficit in January to December 2019

The copper market recorded a deficit of 94 kt in January to December 2019 which follows a deficit of 275 kt in the whole of 2018. Reported stocks fell during December to close 42 kt lower than at the end of December 2018. This December decrease includes net deliveries of 63.8 kt out of the LME warehouses and Comex stocks dropped by 0.2 kt. Shanghai stocks rose fractionally during December. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes, particularly in the Chinese government stockpile.

World mine production in January to December 2019 was 20.69 million tonnes which was 1.7 per cent higher than in the same period in 2018. Global refined production for January to December 2019 was 23.72 million tonnes up 0.3 per cent compared with the previous year with significant decreases recorded in India (down 128kt) and in Chile (down 192 kt).

Global consumption for January to December 2019 was 23.82 million tonnes compared with 23.92 million tonnes for the same months of 2018. Chinese apparent demand for the period January to December 2019 was 12800 kt which was 2.5 per cent higher than the whole of 2018. EU28 production fell by 4.7 per cent and demand was 3069 kt, 7.5 per cent below the January to December 2018 total.

In December 2019, refined copper production was 2162.4 kt and consumption was 2121.9 kt.

Lead market records deficit in January to December 2019

The lead market recorded a deficit of 329kt in January to December 2019 which follows a deficit of 243 kt recorded in the whole of 2018. Total stocks at the end of December were 10 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 December 2019 from both primary and secondary sources was 12404 kt which was 6 per cent higher than in the comparable months of 2018. Chinese apparent demand was estimated at 5915 kt which was 680 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 37 kt for January to December 2019 compared to the same months of 2018.

In December 2019, refined lead production was 1130.0 kt and consumption was 1135.8 kt.


Zinc market records deficit in January to December 2019

The zinc market was in deficit by 243.7 kt during January to December 2019 which compares with a surplus of 108 kt recorded in the whole of the previous year. Reported stocks decreased by 63 kt during January to December with a net increase in Shanghai of 28.8 kt over the period. LME stocks fell in December and closed 77.8 kt below the December 2018 level. LME stocks represent 11 per cent of the global total with the bulk of the metal held in Taiwan and Dutch warehouses.

Global refined production rose by 2.8 per cent and consumption was 5.4 per cent higher than the levels recorded one year earlier. Japanese apparent demand was, at 514 kt, 6.8 per cent above the equivalent total for January to December 2018.

World demand was 725 kt higher than for January to December 2018. Chinese apparent demand was 6821 kt which is 48 per cent of the global total. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes.

In December 2019, slab zinc production was 1277.1 kt and consumption 1292.3 kt.

Nickel market records deficit in January to December 2019

The nickel market was in deficit during January to December 2019 with apparent demand exceeding production by 2.2 kt. In the whole of 2018, the calculated deficit was 98.7 kt. Reported stocks held in the LME at the end of December 2019 were 53.1 kt lower than at the end of the previous year. Refined production in January to December 2019 totalled 2408.3 kt and demand was 2410.5 kt.

Mine production during January to December was 2609.6 kt, 218 kt above the comparable 2018 total. Chinese smelter/refinery output increased by 119 kt compared with 2018 and apparent demand was 1304.3 kt, 208 kt higher than in the previous year.

World apparent demand was 65 kt higher than the previous year. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes

In December 2019, nickel smelter/refinery production was 204.9 kt and consumption was 191.4 kt.


Tin market records tiny surplus in January to December 2019

The tin market recorded a surplus of 0.3 kt during January to December 2019 and there were no DLA deliveries during the period. Chinese demand is calculated on an apparent basis using reported stocks on the Shanghai exchange. It is likely that other stocks at producers and consumers may have increased which would imply that the demand figure may be overstated. WBMS has no information on any other stock changes. Total reported stocks were 8.5 kt higher than at the end of 2018 including an unexplained increase in Indonesian stocks of 6.0 kt.

Global reported production of refined metal was down by 1 kt, compared with the January to December 2018 total. Production in Asia was 1.6 kt lower than the January to December 2018 total. Apparent demand in China was 2.1 per cent higher than the equivalent period of the previous year.

Global tin demand during January to December 2019 was 369.2 kt which was 2.7 per cent below the comparable period of 2018. Japanese consumption was 24.7 kt which was 12 per cent below the comparable total for January to December 2018.

In December 2019, refined production was 28.7 kt and consumption was 29.4 kt


Dated 19th February 2020


- ENDS-






The above data are taken from World Metal Statistics February 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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