Southern China port impounds copper slag cargo that was shipped as ‘concentrates’

Customs officials in southern China have impounded just under 10,000 tonnes of copper ‘concentrates’ after it turned out to be smelting waste, which is prohibited from entering the country.

Customs inspectors at Fangchenggang, in Guangxi province in southern China, said the cargo was reported by a Shanghai-based company as copper concentrates – a feedstock used by copper smelters for making refined copper. 

However, a photo issued with an official statement on October 11, shows customs officials inspecting a big pile of black powder at Fangchenggang.

The black powder was found to be a mixture of copper concentrates and residual slag from solvent extraction electrowinning (SX-EW) processing of copper ore, which is not regarded as a raw material but as waste, according to the customs statement.

The statement did not mention the origin of the 9,954.2-tonne cargo. 

The cargo was impounded on October 3 during the Golden Week national holiday. 

Over the past few months, copper concentrates have been highly sought after, due to tight spot availability – as tracked by Fastmarkets’ copper concentrates treatment/refining charges (TC/RCs), which dropped to all-time low of $43.7 per tonne/ 4.37 cents per lb on September 4. 

Lower TC/RCs mean higher procurement costs for raw materials for copper smelters.

Several of China’s major copper smelters ship material through Fangchenggang.

What to read next
The US government will impose tariffs on steel and aluminium shipped from Mexico that were made elsewhere, in a bid to curb trans-shipment and excess production, the White House said in a statement on Wednesday July 10, a move widely applauded by the pair of metals industries
Norway-based aluminium producer Hydro and German car manufacturer Porsche signed a long-term agreement on Tuesday July 9 for supply of low-carbon aluminium to further decarbonize the supply chain of Porsche’s sports cars. The agreement follows the letter of intent signed in April
The Indonesian government is looking to ease its export ban on bauxite, sources familiar with the matter have told Fastmarkets
Price and supply were the major topics of conversation for market participants across the value chain attending Fastmarkets’ flagship Lithium Supply and Battery Raw Materials conference in Las Vegas on June 24-27
Russia's war against Ukraine is using millions of copper-containing shells, which has increased demand for the red metal, sources told Fastmarkets
A new incentive program for companies with large investments in Argentina might unlock the country’s mining potential in the medium term, market participants recently told Fastmarkets