"Both the World Copper Conference organized by CRU and Cesco Dinner will not take place this year," the organization said in a press release dated Monday March 2 after confirming by phone.

The organization had been under pressure to at least delay the event because many market participants had decided not to attend. Major global business events including Houston CeraWeek and Mobile World Congress have been canceled in recent weeks over concerns that large gatherings will ferment the spread of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Every year the copper industry’s major figures and businesspeople congregate in Santiago, Chile, for the conference, which links the supply chain from miners to end users. The event had been scheduled to run on March 23-25.

But over the weekend, several of the world’s top copper mining companies made internal decisions not to attend the event, informed sources told Fastmarkets.

Meanwhile smelters across Asia had withdrawn their attendance in the weeks prior. Korean copper smelting group LS Nikko pulled out of the event in late February after newly confirmed cases quickly rose in the country.

Meanwhile, a worker of LS Group, the parent company of LS Nikko, has tested positive for coronavirus, local media Joongang Daily reported on February 26. The worker is among 4,000 workers based at the LS Yongsan Tower, home of LS Nikko’s office.

Representatives from China’s biggest copper smelters, including Jiangxi Copper, Daye Nonferrous, had also declared their absence from the event.

Difficulties in obtaining travel visas to Chile were cited by several smelter sources as the major reason.

Airlines such as KLM, which operates flights between China and Chile, has suspended mainland China flights until April. As a result, some flights booked by Chinese delegates have been canceled.

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