The copper mining industry has long been prone to unplanned disruptions, which can have an important bearing on market sentiment, moving prices and spot treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs).
Fastmarkets analysts have been routinely monitoring these supply disruptions in recent years, and continue to do so this year while measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have led to a surge in production losses and guidance downgrades.
Our disruptions tally related to the Covid-19 crisis specifically has been rising weekly and now stands at 889,000 tonnes of lost copper mine production this year. Losses for all causes stand at 1.456 million tonnes, already exceeding the around 1 million tonnes of unplanned losses in each of the past two years.
The elevated level of unplanned losses has contributed significantly to the decline in spot copper TC/RCs from their 2020 high in March, and to the recovery in London Metal Exchange copper prices off their 2020 low, also in March.
The weekly Fastmarkets copper concentrate TC/RC index stood at $52.20 per tonne / 5.22 cents per lb on Friday May 1, its lowest level since the start of 2020.
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Fastmarkets’ team of analysts has been tracking copper supply disruptions and estimating lost production as a result of Covid-19 measures adopted by governments and mining companies around the world.