May 20, 2020 / 3:36 PM / 16 days ago

Satellite data shows copper smelting revival as China activity rebounds

FILE PHOTO: Copper components used for plumbing seen on sale in Mexico City, Mexico October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Global copper smelting recovered in April due to renewed activity in China and has been even stronger so far in May, an index based on satellite surveillance of copper plants showed.

Smelting activity in China, the world’s top refined copper producer, has been rebounding as COVID-19 lockdowns are lifted and moved slightly higher in April, a joint statement from satellite service SAVANT and broker Marex Spectron said on Wednesday.

Earth-i, which specialises in geospatial data, launched its SAVANT service late last year, tracking 100 smelters accounting for between 80% and 90% of global production.

It sells data to fund managers, traders and miners, and also publishes a free monthly index of global copper smelter activity.

The global index rose to an average of 87.2 in April, up 0.6 point from the previous month. The index represents the percentage of the world’s smelters that are active.

Overall activity was weakest at the start of April as smelters in many regions used the Easter period for maintenance, the statement said.

“The index generally sees the annual lows in April but the unique circumstances resulting from COVID-19 have meant that April was instead the first signs of recovery,” Guy Wolf, global head of analytics at broker Marex Spectron, which helped develop SAVANT, said.

“Indications from the product data in May are that the pick-up in activity has accelerated, particularly in China.”

Reporting by Eric Onstad. Editing by Jane Merriman

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