Chinese Copper Output Jumps to Six-Month High as Capacity Grows

  • Production rose 8.7 percent to record in first eight months
  • Lead output slides to three-month low on environmental checks

China, the world’s top producer of refined copper, boosted output to the highest level in at least six months as domestic smelters expanded capacity amid favorable margins.

Production climbed to 743,000 metric tons in August from 722,000 tons a month earlier and 663,000 tons last year, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday. China didn’t publish January and February data due to discrepancies caused by the Lunar New Year holiday. Output rose 8.7 percent to a record of 5.5 million tons in the first eight months, data showed.

Chinese smelters have ramped up production as capacity increased and profits rose. The spot fees that Chinese smelters levy from miners to process ore into metal stood at $105 a ton in July and August, the highest since early 2015, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. This prompted smelters to boost imports of ore and concentrate and cut purchases of refined metal from overseas.

Zinc output was 517,000 tons last month from 506,000 tons a month earlier and 530,000 tons a year ago, according to the bureau. Production fell 1 percent to 4.05 million tons in the first eight months amid tightness in global ore supplies. While lead output rose 7 percent to 2.835 million tons through August, it fell to 351,000 tons last month, the lowest since May, due to environmental checks.

— With assistance by Winnie Zhu

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