BHP tries to delay China shipments due to virus – by Sarah Danckert and Nick Toscano (Brisbane Times – February 9, 2020)

BHP Group is starting to feel the impact of the coronavirus on its business with the mining giant in talks with its Chinese customers to delay shipments of copper concentrate as plants are shutdown around the nation.

BHP confirmed on Sunday that it is working with its customers in China to stem the impact of the virus on its exports after importers in China were offered force majeure certificates by the country’s international trade promotion agency.

In response, suppliers are considering giving buyers in China flexibility on deliveries to discourage them from declaring force majeure, offering them a way out of contractual obligations.

BHP declined to confirm it was offering side agreements with its customers when contacted by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday. A company spokeswoman said: “We are working closely with our copper customers as they return from Chinese new year”. The company does not comment on individual customer arrangements and sources close the company said at this stage, there’s been no impact to our production and product flows.

In Chile, miners are already working with clients to defer cargoes, Bloomberg reported. Fears that China’s efforts to curb the fast-spreading coronavirus could disrupt supply chains and hurt demand for Australian resource commodities have driven falls in the share prices of the nation’s heavily China-reliant miners including BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue.

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