Spot copper concentrates trading limited as market focus shifts to mid-year supply talks

Trading in the spot copper concentrate market in Asia was sluggish in the week to Friday May 31, with smelters not actively looking for spot units, sources said

Fastmarkets calculated the weekly copper concentrate TC index, cif Asia Pacific at a discount of $4.10 per tonne on Friday, down from a discount of $3.80 per tonne in the preceding assessment and a new record low since Fastmarkets began tracking the price in 2013.

“The market is a bit quiet, with smelters seemingly not eager to buy, but there is also little rebound in spot TCs,” one market participant said.

Market participants also added recent support from ample supplies of blister copper and anodes in China’s domestic spot market has allowed some smelters to reduce the use of copper concentrates while largely maintaining refined copper production.

“Domestic supplies of blister copper and anodes made of copper scraps are increasing notably, and the two are becoming more competitive due to cheaper prices and easily accessible compared to copper concentrates,” a second market participant said.

More supplies of blister copper have also reduced demand for imported blister copper, with minimal buying interest despite higher offers, sources told Fastmarkets.

“There is no interest in importing blister copper now, with refining charges [RCs] for domestic units rising to 2,200 yuan [roughly $270] per tonne in some regions, much better than those for imported units,” a third market participant said.

Fastmarkets’ monthly price assessment of copper blister 98-99% RC, spot, cif China was $160-200 per tonne on May 31, up from $100 per tonne in April.

Elsewhere, Chilean copper miner Antofagasta met Chinese copper smelters this past week for the first round of copper concentrates supply talks, but no agreed upon figures have been announced, sources told Fastmarkets.

“There is market consensus on supply shortage of copper concentrates, and the severity of the shortages may vary. Supply talks have just begun ,[and] I heard the miner tentatively offers [of TCs] at $10 [per tonne], but smelters haven’t given their numbers yet,” a fourth market participant said.

Other coverage:
BHP shuts up, for now: Hotter Commodities

BHP’s bid for Anglo American fails but can high copper price increase supply?

US copper premium rises; high exchange prices keep Asia, London markets flat

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