LONDON, July 10 (Reuters) - Large copper smelters in China are boosting output and taking market share from smaller ones that are closing, data from satellite surveillance of copper plants showed.
Overall smelting activity in China, the world’s top refined copper producer, was only slightly down in June month on month despite a large number of closures, a joint statement from satellite service SAVANT and broker Marex Spectron said on Friday.
“It seems clear that operating margins are being pressured by rising input prices in China which is forcing some smelters out of the market,” said Guy Wolf, global head of analytics at Marex, which helped develop SAVANT.
“But at the same time, we are seeing aggressive increases in activity at some of the larger operators which suggests demand remains robust in China.”
Earth-i, which specialises in geospatial data, launched its SAVANT service late last year, tracking more than 100 smelters representing 80%-to-90% of global production.
It sells data to fund managers, traders and miners and publishes a free monthly index of global copper smelter activity.
Its dispersion index for China declined to an average of 53.9 in June from 54.6 the month earlier.
SAVANT launched the dispersion index in June, with 50 points indicating smelters are operating at the average level over the last 12 months. It also has a second index showing the percentage of active smelters.
Chinese activity was only modestly down despite the second index showing a record amount of inactive capacity during the month, the statement said.
The global dispersion index was little changed, rising by 0.1 point to 50.7 in June from the month earlier, but the regional differences were stark as COVID-19 lockdowns impacted the sector.
North America recorded the lowest activity reading in the history of the product at 34.2.
Europe and Africa were also below average, while data showed Oceania and South America recovering strongly, it added.
Reporting by Eric Onstad; editing by Barbara Lewis