Archive | Copper

Citigroup says copper fever may raise the temperature for Australian miners – by Myriam Robin (Sydney Morning Herald – February 22, 2017)

Copper prices may soar to $US8000 a tonne, or $US3.60 a pound, by the end of the decade according to Citi analysts, who have also upgraded their forecasts for a number of Australian miners highly exposed to the commodity.

The spot price of copper has risen strongly over the past year, particularly since October. It’s up 30.3 per cent on February last year, last trading at $US6045.50 a tonne.

Copper, the world’s third most widely-used metal after iron and aluminum, is used in cyclical industries such as construction and industrial machinery manufacturing. For this reason, copper is seen by many as a key leading indicator of global growth and even has the nickname “Dr Copper”, a reference to its use as an economic barometer. Continue Reading →

Should we mine the deep ocean? – by Kendra Pierre-Louis (Popular Science – February 21, 2017)

Behind the deep sea “gold rush” for increasingly rare minerals

You’ve probably heard of peak oil—the point at which oil production reaches its maximum and begins to decline—but what about peak copper? Copper helps send the electrical signals that make modern electronics like cellphones and tablets work. But there’s growing concern that the prevalence of key minerals like copper is on the decline.

In 2016 the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilisco) released a report that looked at 15 years of copper exploration data. They found that most new copper deposits had been found before 2010. The world hasn’t stopped looking for copper, but we’ve stopped finding it.

And copper isn’t even the mineral that makes companies most nervous—it’s still pretty abundant. Minerals like tantalum, tungsten, and molybdenum are another matter entirely. They’re vital to manufacturing high-tech devices and don’t have ready substitutes. These minerals are often not mined directly but are byproducts of other types of mining. Continue Reading →

Factbox: Disruptions, labor negotiations at copper mines (Reuters U.S. – February 21, 2017)

Copper prices surged to 21-month highs above $6,200 a tonne earlier this month, up more than 40 percent since January 2016 due to worries about supplies after disruptions in top producer Chile, Indonesia and Peru.

Global copper demand this year is estimated at about 23 million tonnes with half of that being consumed in China. A recent Reuters survey showed analysts expecting copper prices to average at $5,350 a tonne. Forecasts ranged between $4,740 and $5,855.

The survey also showed the copper market would be in a surplus of around 80,000 tonnes this year and next. But those could easily turn into large deficits if stoppages and disruptions are prolonged. Continue Reading →

The world’s top 10 highest-grade copper mines – by Vladimir Basov ( – February 20, 2017)

“Grade is king”. This is very true, especially in today’s challenging mineral commodities market conditions. The grade of metal in ore is usually directly related to the ability of a particular mine to make money and be profitable.

All things being equal, a higher grade generally means lower production costs per ounce/pound/ton, making high-grade ore deposits a crucial consideration for mining investors. Mines that can provide good returns in any market environment are “the best of breed”. While the copper market is gaining momentum, it is a good time to look at the copper mining champions in terms of copper grade in ore reserves.

Why have only reserves been taken into account? This is because a mineral reserve is the part of the mineral resource that has demonstrated economic viability in current market conditions. Therefore, ore reserves are much less speculative than ore resources and relatively precisely reflect changes in the economic “wellbeing” of mines. Continue Reading →

Mining giants ride copper’s price wave – by Scott Patterson (Dow Jones/The Australian – February 20, 2017)

Copper bulls are looking smart — for now. Some of the world’s biggest mining companies, which have giant copper portfolios, are now poised to reap the rewards, with Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Glencore set to report full- or half-year earnings this week.

The industrial metal has surged more than 30 per cent in the past year, providing rocket fuel for companies that were staring into the abyss a year ago. Shares in Anglo and Glencore have more than tripled in the past 12 months. BHP, which has faced headwinds from a fatal tailings-dam disaster at one of its mining operations in Brazil, is up 62 per cent.

Rio Tinto, which is focusing more on its copper business, offered a preview of how miners’ fortunes have flipped to the upside when it reported earnings earlier this month. The Anglo-Australian mining giant said it returned to a profit in 2016 with $US4.62 billion in earnings, increased its dividend and announced a $US500 million share buyback. Continue Reading →

Northern Dynasty hits back after scathing short-seller’s report – by Ian McGugan (Globe and Mail – February 1, 2017)

Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., the Vancouver miner blindsided by a short-seller’s scathing report, fired back on Friday, saying the polemic is “unsupported speculation” from a “troubled organization” that doesn’t understand mining.

Kerrisdale Capital Management, a New York investment firm, hammered Northern Dynasty’s stock on Tuesday when it published a report arguing the miner is “worthless” because its undeveloped copper and gold resource in Alaska is not commercially viable.

In response, Northern Dynasty said Kerrisdale’s analysis contains numerous errors and misunderstandings. “Their report isn’t worth the paper it’s written on,” Northern Dynasty chief executive Ron Thiessen said in an interview. Continue Reading →

Chile store owners lament end of miners’ bonus culture – by Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – February 17, 2017)

ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE – In the dusty mining city of Antofagasta in northern Chile, the copper miners are not the only ones lamenting the end of the commodities boom – and the juicy bonuses that went with it.

Businesses in Antofagasta – from retailers of cars and luxury cruises to taxis and restaurants – formerly enjoyed windfalls every time miners renegotiated their contracts, which in Chile typically means a one-off bonus for each worker.

In 2013, workers at BHP Billiton’s Escondida, the world’s biggest copper mine, each received a payment worth $49,000 at the then-exchange rate, the highest ever paid in Chile.Competing for their custom, local shopkeepers put out signs saying “Take it now and pay when you get your bonus”. Continue Reading →

Freeport Indonesia mine grinds to complete halt: union – by Fergus Jensen and Wilda Asmarini (Reuters U.K. – February 16, 2017)

JAKARTA – All work has stopped at Freeport-McMoRan Inc’s giant copper mine in Indonesia and its workers are planning a demonstration against the government’s move last month that halted exports of copper concentrate to boost domestic industries, a union said.

A prolonged stoppage at the world’s second-biggest copper mine would support copper prices, near 21-month highs this week, but would also deny the Indonesian government desperately needed revenue from one of its biggest taxpayers.

Freeport had said the Grasberg mine would have to slash output by 60 percent to approximately 70 million pounds of metal per month if it did not get an export permit by mid-February, due to limited storage. Continue Reading →

Glencore Buys Out Billionaire With $1 Billion Congo Mining Deal – by Franz Wild, Tom Wilson and Jesse Riseborough (Bloomberg News – February 14, 2017)

(Bloomberg) — Glencore Plc agreed to a $960 million deal that will boost ownership of two giant Congolese cobalt and copper mines, and sever its ties with controversial Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler.

For Glencore, the deal achieves two things: greater control of key assets at a time of booming copper and cobalt prices and a parting of ways from Gertler after his business in the Democratic Republic of Congo and relationship with President Joseph Kabila attracted scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Glencore will pay Fleurette Group, a company owned by Gertler’s family trust, $534 million cash after all debts are paid, the company said in a statement on Monday. The assets include a 31 percent stake in Mutanda Mining, the world’s biggest cobalt mine, and a 10.3 percent holding in Katanga Mining Ltd., which operates a nearby copper and cobalt mine. Continue Reading →

KGHM builds copper smelter in Poland (Resource World – February 9, 2017)

The investment by one of the world’s largest copper and silver producers, KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. [KGH-WSE], in the Głogów Copper Smelter (HMG I), in western Poland, represents a milestone in the history of Polish metallurgy and puts KGHM at the forefront of copper producers.

KGHM said the state-of-the-art copper smelter is world’s largest flash furnace and electrical furnace. This unique technology is currently used only in three places in the world – one of them is Głogów. The opening ceremony at the smelter was held January 20, 2017.

This completed the implementation of the multi-annual Programme for Modernisation of Pyrometallurgy. Construction of a concentrate roasting installation, which will be launched in the fourth quarter of 2017, is an additional part of the Programme. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-How vulnerable is copper to supply disruption? – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – February 9, 2017)

LONDON, Feb 9 The copper market is facing the imminent prospect of the simultaneous closure of the world’s two largest copper mines. Strike action is due to start today at the largest, the Escondida mine in Chile.

There seems little prospect of a last-minute settlement between unions and the mine’s majority owner and operator BHP Billiton. The union didn’t even bother attending talks on the fifth day of statutory government mediation and the company has started shutting down operations.

In Indonesia, meanwhile, Freeport McMoRan is threatening to partly suspend operations at its Grasberg mine due to the lack of an export permit, the latest turn in the long-running stand-off between the company and the Indonesian government. Continue Reading →

Workers at BHP Billiton Copper Mine In Chile Go On Strike – by Ryan Dube (Wall Street Journal – February 9, 2017)

Workers at BHP Billiton Ltd.’s majority-owned Minera Escondida copper mine in Chile went on strike Thursday, a union official said, putting pressure on the country’s sluggish economy and copper prices over fears of shortages.

“People didn’t show up to work,” said Carlos Allendes, a spokesman for Escondida’s largest union, Union No.1. “The strike has begun.” The strike at Escondida, the world’s biggest copper mine, follows unsuccessful talks between the union and management for a new collective agreement.

Escondida, which accounts for about 5% of the metal’s global output, said late Wednesday it would halt operations during the strike to ensure safety. It said the local labor regulator gave it permission to allow 80 employees to continue working to perform critical functions, including maintenance. Continue Reading →

Enormous global demand on way for copper, platinum, zinc – Friedland – by Martin Creamer ( – February 8, 2017)

CAPE TOWN ( – Enormous global demand is building up for copper, platinum and zinc, driven by new technology, mitigation of health risks in hospitals and agricultural augmentation, Ivanhoe Mines executive chairperson Robert Friedland said on Wednesday.

In a comprehensive address to the Investing in African Mining Indaba, Friedland used statistics from credible global institutions and well-recorded technological advances to highlight major looming copper shortages, strong upcoming platinum demand for hydrogen fuel cells and the practice of adding zinc to soils to grow food, which promotes good health and renders the metal nonrecyclable.

He flashed on to a big screen graphics of platinum-catalysed fuel cell vehicles needed to do the main job of stopping tiny particles in the air of major urban cities from entering lungs, getting into the blood stream and then going permanently beyond the blood brain barrier. Continue Reading →

Disruptions at top two copper mines threaten global supply – by Wilda Asmarini (Reuters U.S. – February 8, 2017)

JAKARTA – Disruptions at the world’s two biggest copper mines by strikes and other issues this week are threatening to reduce global supplies of the metal, pushing benchmark prices back towards their highest levels for the year so far.

BHP Billiton said it would halt output in Chile at its Escondida mine, the biggest copper producer, during a strike to begin on Thursday. Freeport-McMoRan Inc warned it will scale back output at its Grasberg mine in Indonesia, the second-biggest, amid a smelter strike and issues over renewal of its mining permit.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange gained more than 2 percent during trading on Wednesday to $5,925 a ton on the supply threat, with analysts noting they had already been expecting tighter supplies this year. [MET/L] Continue Reading →

Workers at Chile’s Escondida copper mine to strike Thursday: union – by Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – February 7, 2017)

ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE – Workers are set to strike on Thursday at BHP Billiton Plc’s Escondida copper mine after contract talks mediated by the Chilean government failed to reach a deal, the main union at the world’s largest copper mine told Reuters.

The union has warned that a strike at the Chilean copper mine could be lengthy, potentially affecting global supplies of a metal used in everything from construction to telecommunications.

BHP Billiton said it planned to halt production during the strike since it could not guarantee the safety of the 80 workers the government had authorized to remain at the mine to perform “critical duties”, such as equipment upkeep and adherence to environmental protocols. Continue Reading →