By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
SIX of the 10 largest copper producers in the world still succeeded in increasing output for the year in 2020 despite the initial impact of the covid-19 pandemic on global mining operations which was immense.
The highest increase in copper production was by Canada’s First Quantum, which, despite all the challenges, reported 10.4 percent growth in 2020, according to United Kingdome based analytics firm GlobalData.
This year, copper production from the top 10 companies is expected to bounce back, rising by up to 3.8 percent to reach 12.2 million tonnes, GlobalData estimates.
On the 2020 performance, the firm indicated that First Quantum’s Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to this growth.
While the latter remained under care and maintenance between April and August, it delivered record production levels during the subsequent months.
The firm however indicated that production from the world’s top 10 copper mining companies decreased in 2020, albeit by a marginal 0.2 percent to 11.76 million tonnes.
Associate project manager at GlobalData, Vinneth Bajaj, said around 9.1 percent growth was expected from First Quantum and 5.3 percent higher copper cathode output was expected from Jiangxi. Mr Bajaj explained that the growth would also be supported by production from other operating mines such as Escondida, Collahuasi, El Teniente, Cerro Verde, Buenavista and Antamina.
“Despite Codelco reporting over 3,400 active cases during July 2020, the company achieved 1.2 percent growth in its production in 2020.
“The company implemented a four-phase plan, as part of the covid-19 measures, to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while also avoiding any significant impact to its copper output,” he said. Meanwhile, London copper prices fell on Friday and were on track for their first weekly decline in over a month.
This happened as worries of tightening credit and potential commodities price cap in China dampened sentiment.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange dipped 0.2 percent to US$10,324 a tonne, down 0.9 percent on a weekly basis, its first decline since the week ended April 2.