Mining News

Lower copper prices amidst slower Chinese demand

Posted by Alana Wilson on 5/7/2013 9:20:56 AM

By Alana Wilson

Slower global growth and declining demand from China has led to a drop in copper prices in recent months. China currently accounts for more than 40% of world demand, and its demand has boomed as its rural population has moved to cities needing copper for wiring and pipes. [1]

“Emerging markets everywhere are gobbling up copper to put in bridges, cars, fridges and more or less anything that uses electricity”. [1]

As China’s growth has slowed however, copper prices have declined. Prices have dropped 15% since the beginning of 2013[1] and 21% since their high in February 2012[2].

This decline in copper prices is being watched closely by those in the mining industry, both near and far. A recent article in Business Vancouver highlights the importance of copper to British Columbia’s economy. BC is Canada’s top copper producer with 30% of Canada’s total production and it shipped $1.5 billion worth of copper in 2011[2]. Lower copper prices have weakened profits for BC miners and are expected to hit the junior mining sector especially hard.

Copper prices are also being followed closely in Chile, according to the Economist. Strong copper prices have led to lower poverty and better public services, and allowed Chile’s economy to expand by 6% annually. The downturn in copper prices could hit Chile especially hard as is contributes 20% of Chile’s GDP and 60% of exports. Between 2005 and 2011 copper provided an average of $11.5 billion/year to government. However that future is now seen as precarious as declining demand, aging mines, lower ore grade, and rising costs threaten Chile’s copper future. [1]


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References

[1]The Economist (2013), Mining in Chile: Copper solution. Accessed May 2, 2013, http://www.economist.com/news/business/21576714-mining-industry-has-enriched-chile-its-future-precarious-copper-solution.
[2]Business Vancouver (2013), Copper enters bear market amidst economic uncertainty. Accessed May 2, 2013, http://www.biv.com/article/20130430/BIV0108/304309945/mining-report-copper-enters-bear-market-amidst-economic-uncertainty.




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