The index put the month's average at 90.1, up from December's 88.9.
The figures have ranged over the past 12 months from 85.2 in April to 93.8 in July.
The observations showed activity was "particularly strong" in Europe during January, and while there was a slight recovery towards month-end, activity levels in China had reached their lowest levels since May 2018.
"The index readings suggest that Chinese smelters had been intending to bring production back online in the early part of January," Wolf said.
"Despite the coronavirus outbreak, the evidence is that production has been curtailed rather than stopped, particularly at the larger sites."
New York investment bank Jefferies said earlier this month copper was "the coiled spring in mining" and ready for a price breakout when the impact of COVID-19 subsides.
The SAVANT index was launched in October and monitors up to 90% of the smelting capacity for copper around the globe, using satellite and other data sources.