With demand in the doldrums, European copper cathode heads to China

Demand for copper in Europe is weak and economies are struggling to restart after coronavirus-related lockdowns, forcing copper producers to ship cathode to China instead.

Chinese trading houses and copper product manufacturers told Fastmarkets that they were fielding a significant rise in offers of cathode produced in Spain and Germany, an unusual shift in traditional trade flows confirmed by European counterparts this week.
“While the European market is still weak, and likely remaining that way for a couple of months, China is really the only place that we can deliver if we have excess production or something to sell on spot. But with coronavirus complications we don’t want to take risks with our production,” a European copper producer told Fastmarkets.
Despite having smelters in Germany, Spain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Austria and Sweden, Europe is traditionally a net importer of refined copper, producing 2.7 million tonnes against 3.2 million tonnes of consumption last year. Germany shipped 20,000 tonnes of cathode to China in 2019, 11% of total exports.

“We don’t see Europe-origin...

Published

Julian Luk

Hassan Butt

June 25, 2020

11:39 GMT

London