Editorial: Signs of life in copper market – by John Cumming (Northern Miner – September 9, 2015)

The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry.

Glencore’s surprise decision to cut back its copper production coupled with stronger-than-expected Chinese copper import data have had a salutary effect on copper prices, which jumped 5% on Sept. 8 to record their biggest one-day percentage gain in two and a half years to US$2.43 per lb. at press time.

That’s a 9.5% rise from the near seven-year low of US$2.22 per lb. seen a little over two weeks earlier on Aug. 24, 2015. For context, that’s still well above the recessionary low of just US$1.26 per lb. on Dec. 24, 2008, but nowhere near the sweet, sweet record-high price of US$4.60 per lb. on Feb. 14, 2011. In some ways, copper’s price gyrations have mirrored that of crude oil, which saw sudden price gains of 27% over three days in late August on lower U.S. production estimates, and expectations of supply cuts from other producing countries.

In light of what it calls the “challenging environment for commodities,” Glencore has had its subsidiaries Katanga Mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mopani Copper Mines in Zambia launch a major review of their copper-mining businesses, and suspend production at both Katanga and Mopani operations for 18 months until finishing expansion and upgrade projects that will continue to get funding, including the whole-ore leach at Katanga and the new shafts and concentrator at Mopani.

Glencore says these suspensions could remove 400,000 tonnes of copper cathode from the market, or 1–2% of world copper production. It also expects the expansion and upgrade programs will reduce C1 costs at Katanga and Mopani to US$1.65 per lb. and US$1.70 per lb., from more than US$2.50 per lb. today.

Glencore’s Mutanda Mining copper mine in the DRC will continue operating, where it is achieving C1 costs of only US$1.33 per lb.)

For the rest of this editorial, click here: http://www.northernminer.com/news/editorial-signs-of-life-in-copper-market/1003704437/

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