Copper prices fell in early Asian trading on Friday after MMG’s Las Bambas mine in Peru said it would resume operations that had been halted due to a road blockade.
The overall mood in the base metals markets, however, was mixed on the last trading session of the year, with prices in London lower across the board, while the benchmarks in top metals consumer China were mostly higher.
Base metals remained on track to end firmer this year after China staged an economic rebound and on lingering concerns over supply.
However, analysts have warned that slowing Chinese investment in infrastructure and property is weighing on copper demand, while the global supply is set to rise in 2022.
China’s unwrought copper imports fell 34% year-on-year in October to 411,000 tonnes, while cumulative imports in the first 10 months of 2021 declined 21% year-on-year to 4.4 million tonnes.
Diminishing Appetite for Imports
“We believe the diminishing appetite for imports regardless of the spot premium reflects anxiety over weakness in downstream demand,” Helen Lau, commodities strategist at CCB International, said in a note to clients.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.6% at $9,630 a tonne by 0241 GMT, while the most-traded February copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange slipped 0.2% to 69,890 yuan ($10,965.20) a tonne.
MMG, operator of Las Bambas mine, a large, long-life copper mine located in Cotabambas in the Apurimac region of southern Peru, on Thursday said it would restart operations after reaching a deal with a community that blocked a key road for a month.
The reopening process is expected to take up to six days. In an earlier statement, MMG said the roadblocks had resulted “in the mine running out of critical consumables”.
Chile’s state-controlled Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, has successfully concluded its sales plan for 2022 in Southeast Asia with the signing of multi-year deals.
- Reuters with additional editing by George Russell