FOCUS: Sulfuric acid oversupply to persist as Chinese copper, zinc smelters expand

The ambitious expansion of copper and zinc smelters in China is boosting not only the production of metal but output of the sulfuric acid by-product, and this is now in oversupply due to the knock-on effects of the outbreak of the 2019-nCoV coronavirus.

“It is a rainy night and smelters have leaky roofs,” Du Fei and Lily Li said in a jointly published report. Both are analysts with Jinrui Futures, Jiangxi Copper’s research arm.
“Sulfuric acid stock was already running high at smelters before the lunar new year holiday [in January]. Then the demand for acid deteriorated further when the virus spread,” they added.
During the process of smelting concentrates into metal, one tonne of copper output generates three tonnes of sulfuric acid, while one tonne of zinc output generates two tonnes of acid.

With the expansion of primary smelting capacity, Chinese sulfuric acid capacity is also forecast to grow by 1.06 million tonnes per year in...


Julian Luk

March 10, 2020

09:40 GMT