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China Jan-Feb annual copper output up, but virus takes down daily rate 15% from Dec

Hellenicshippingnews - China’s refined copper production rose 2.8% on the year in the first two months of 2020, official data showed on Tuesday, but the daily rate fell more than 15% from December, as smelters reduced loads amid a coronavirus outbreak.

China, the world’s biggest copper consumer, churned out 1.527 million tonnes of the metal in January and February combined, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

The bureau does not typically report individual monthly figures for January and February due to distortions from the Lunar New Year holiday, which was extended this year in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

The production rate works out at 25,450 tonnes of refined copper a day, Reuters calculations show, down 15.2% from a monthly record high of 30,000 tonnes in December, and the lowest daily rate since May 2019.

The virus, which originated in the central province of Hubei, sparked fears over copper demand, but the main problem for smelters was an inability to sell off rising inventories of byproduct sulphuric acid, leaving them short of storage space.

“Hubei is the main production area of phosphate fertilizer in China, accounting for about a third of total production,” Xiaoxiong He, associate director at IHS Markit, said in an email.

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