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Copper falls the lowest in 3 months, pushed by Chinese smelters’ pledge to cut output


After a solid lift to near one-year highs the copper price is once again in danger of falling below US$8,820 a tonne in New York as the first quarter closes.

On London Metal Exchange (LME) prices have followed the same course after hitting a high of $9,164.50 on March 18, 2024.

A Zambia Monitor scan on, an influential industry news platform, on Monday showed that copper’s runup was sparked by pledges from Chinese smelters to cut output by five-10 percent in the face of tighter-than-expected concentrate supply and overcapacity.

This was after years of China’s relentless expansion which had lifted the country’s global refining share to over 50 percent.

Read more: copper-trades-above-9000-per-tonne-highest-in-11-months

Evidence of how desperate Chinese refiners were to source raw material  was a report out Thursday by Bloomberg that BHP sold concentrate from Escondida.

This is the world’s largest copper mine, at spot treatment charges as low as US$3 per tonne and refining charges of 0.3 cents a pound to at least one Chinese smelter.

That constitutes at least a decade low and when prices declined to below $8,000 a tonne in 2023, treatment and refining charges paid by miners to refiners to convert concentrates into metal were north of US$90 a tonne.

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