Copper price: After China ban, Australia had no problem finding new concentrate buyers – by Frik Els ( – July 29, 2021)

Copper was an early victim of the increasingly fraught relations between Canberra and Beijing and Chinese imports of concentrate have fallen off a cliff since November last year under a ban that was never made official.

Australia is the fourth-largest producer of copper concentrates globally. The country produced 3.5 million tonnes last year, with just under half of that exported.

Unlike the iron ore market, where the countries’ steel mills and iron ore miners are joined at the hip, Australian concentrate only made up some 5% of Chinese imports. China was Australia’s no. 1 customer, however, and in the past sucked in more than half the country’s exports.

According to a new report by Roskill, a minerals and metals market research firm, total exports of Australian concentrates fell 8% in 2020 (in gross weight terms) as producers scrambled to find new customers in the final months of 2020.

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