Peru’s copper, zinc output down in January amid Antamina drop

Peruvian copper and zinc production fell year on year in January, partially erasing the recovery seen in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to data published by the ministry of energy and mines, Minem, on Thursday March 11.

The country produced 176,402 tonnes of copper in the first month of 2021, which amounted to a 7.6% year-on-year drop from 190,927 tonnes in January 2020 and the lowest level seen since 172,000 tonnes last September.

Peru has enforced strict measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, with mines closing or significantly reducing activities, mostly during the March-July period last year. As those restrictions began to be eased, copper production recovered from a 2020 low of 125,000 tonnes in April to 222,000 tonnes in December.

But supply disruptions and a recent surge in demand have put further pressure on copper treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) this year.

Fastmarkets’ copper concentrates TC index, cif Asia Pacific, was $30.30 per tonne on March 5, down from $35.80 per tonne the previous week and at its lowest level since first publication in 2013.

On Wednesday, Peruvian energy and mines minister, Jaime Gálvez, said the country’s copper output was expected to amount to 2.5 million tonnes in 2021 and would reach 3 million tonnes per year in 2025. 

The Minem data also showed that zinc output in Peru totaled 121,578 tonnes in January, down by 3.5% from 126,021 tonnes in the corresponding month in 2020.

Since recording an output of only 17,000 tonnes in April 2020, Peru gradually increased zinc production to 156,000 tonnes in December and the last time figures as low as this January’s were last seen in July 2020, when the country produced 113,000 tonnes. 

Fastmarkets’ assessment of the zinc spot concentrate TC, cif China, also fell significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic, reaching $70-85 per tonne on February 26, from $280-315 per tonne a year before. The assessment was stable since January 29 this year.

Both copper and zinc production have fallen year-on-year at Antamina – a mine jointly owned by BHP, Glencore, Teck and Mitsubishi – contributing materially to the overall drop in output in Peru, Minem said.

Meanwhile, the ministry reported 20,832 tonnes in lead production for January, a 13.1% drop when compared with the 23,981 tonnes produced in the corresponding month of 2020.

Tin output, however, reached 2,101 tonnes in January, up by 2.3% from 2,053 tonnes in the same month in 2020. And molybdenum production was 2,727 tonnes, a 22% year-on-year increase from 2,235 tonnes.

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