ASIAN MORNING BRIEF 30/11: LME copper, aluminium continue slide; copper miners must give smelters more room on TC/RCs to maintain industry’s health; copper price expected to rise above $8,000/t in 2018

The latest news and price moves to start the Asian day on Thursday November 30.

Base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange were mixed on Wednesday November 29, with copper and aluminium declining for a third day in a row while nickel and lead bucked the trend. Read more in our live futures report.

Here are how prices looked at the end of the day on Wednesday.


Miners and smelters need to reach an agreement on profitable treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) that will benefit the entire copper industry for the long term, Jiangxi Copper president Wu Yuneng told delegates at Metal Bulletin’s 13th Asia Copper Conference.

He Jinbi, chairman and chief executive officer of Maike Group, told delegates at the conference that the copper price will reach $7,300 per tonne in the next six months and exceed $8,000 per tonne in 2018.

The annual copper TC/RC benchmark should settle within a range of $80-$85 per tonne/8-8.5 cents per lb for 2018, a level that Chinese smelters should find profitable, Nicholas Snowden, senior metals analyst at Standard Chartered, said at the conference.

Don Smale, secretary general of the International Copper Study Group, estimated that 2018 global copper production will increase 2.5% for both concentrates and metal.

Faced with rising costs and environmental pressure, copper miners need higher prices around or above $7,500 per tonne to justify new investments in production and to keep up with growing demand, executives from key mining companies also said at the conference.

The US Commerce Department has elected to self-initiate anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations into imports of Chinese common alloy aluminium sheet. 

The end of a nine-month strike at Canadian miner Noranda Income Fund’s zinc processing facility in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec, is unlikely to push spot market premiums lower in the near term.

Zinc premiums were up in Europe due to growing transportation costs but were largely flat in Asia amid a closed arbitrage window, while lead buying interest boosted premiums in India and Southeast Asia.

Spot copper premiums were largely unchanged in a week when Codelco raised annual levels in East Asia and the market gathered to assess the 2018 market at Cesco Asia Copper Week in Shanghai.

Copper premiums were little changed in the United States over the past week, with annual contract negotiations hitting a snag due to the Thanksgiving holiday break.

Global aluminium premiums were broadly stable in the week to November 28, and while some downside pressure remains heading into year-end sentiment for next year is generally positive.

The spot aluminium premium in the United States was flat for a third week in a row, with market participants indicating that the spot market has generally been bereft of activity.

Shanghai nickel premiums fell on Tuesday, pressured by tighter credit availability in the region and weaker demand from the stainless steel sector, while premiums were firm in the US and edged up in Europe.

Tin premiums were unchanged across the board in the week to November 28, with sources citing decreased demand in some regions caused by the annual winter slump in the northern hemisphere and the season holiday slowdown.

Nigeria must increase its exploration and marketing of ores and alloys as well as industrial minerals to grow its mining sector, the country’s minister for mines and steel development said at a reception in London.

Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd, parent company of the London Metal Exchange, said it opened its first overseas office in Singapore on Wednesday.

Nickel ore production in the Philippines fell to 19.01 million dry metric tonnes in the first nine months of the year, down 11% from the same period last year, according to the country’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

South Korea’s Public Procurement Service awarded a 1,000-tonne good western aluminium tender at $114 per tonne on November 29, a notice from the agency said.

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