Freeport beats copper estimates in relief to tight supplies – by James Attwood and Daniela Sirtori-Cortina (Bloomberg News – April 22, 2021)

Freeport-McMoRan Inc., the biggest publicly traded copper miner, produced more than expected last quarter and raised its annual sales projection in a much-needed boost to tight global supplies of the metal.

The Phoenix-based company is on schedule with the ramp-up of underground operations at its flagship Grasberg mine in Indonesia and is stepping up output from North America just as copper surges toward the highest price in almost a decade. At its Cerro Verde mine in Peru, Freeport plans to get back to pre-pandemic levels next year.

At a time of robust demand and production disruptions elsewhere, Freeport’s expansion provides some relief for smelters and consumers of the metal used in wiring.

Rather than a spike, Chief Executive Officer Richard Adkerson sees copper’s rally to above $4 a pound as supported by fundamentals — with scarce stockpiles, strong demand and dearth of big new projects waiting in the wings.

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