A decline in output at the BHP-majority-owned Escondida copper mine - the world’s largest – is likely to be the main reason for the small decline, with production there falling 11.6% to 84,700 tonnes in the first month of 2021, down from 100,900 tonnes in the corresponding period of 2020, according to Cochilco data.
The world’s biggest copper producer, meanwhile - the government-owned Codelco - reported output of 142,000 tonnes in January, a 19.4% year-on-year increase from 118,900 tonnes in January 2020.
Codelco’s division comprising Chuquicamata, Radomiro Tomic and Ministro Hales produced 69,400 tonnes of copper during January, up by 39.1% from 49,900 tonnes in the same month in 2020, while output at its El Teniente mine was 39,100 tonnes, up by 17.1% from 33,400 tonnes a year before.
Supplies from those two major producers in Chile and from mines in Peru have been volatile since the Covid-19 pandemic hit South America, driving down treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs).
Chile's copper output fell by 1% year-on-year overall in 2020, while Peruvian production dropped 12.5%.
Fastmarkets’ copper concentrates TC index, cif Asia Pacific reached an all-time low of $35.80 per tonne on February 26, after starting 2021 at $44.70 per tonne on January 4.
According to Cochilco, production at Collahuasi was 57,000 tonnes in January, a 6.5% year-on-year increase from 53,500 tonnes in the first month of 2020. Glencore, Anglo American and a Japanese consortium are Collahuasi’s shareholders.
Meanwhile, Antofagasta’s Los Pelambres mine produced 28,800 tonnes of copper in January, down by 3.4% from 29,800 tonnes a year earlier.
And Anglo American Sur’s output from its Los Bronces and El Soldado operations totaled 28,300 tonnes, up by 14.1% from 24,800 tonnes in the same comparison.
Cochilco added that Chilean molybdenum production reached 4,919 tonnes in January, up by 6% from 4,643 tonnes in the same month in 2020.
Chile produced 457,100 tonnes of copper in January, down by 0.7% from 460,100 tonnes in the same month in 2020, the Chilean copper commission, Cochilco, said on Tuesday March 2.