Monday, March 01, 2010

Copper prices jump on Chile quake uncertainties

Chile is the world's largest biggest copper producer.   Saturday's giant earthquake in Chile was well south of most of that nation's copper mines, "But there was sufficient infrastructure damage to the country, especially to power supply, that around 17 percent of the country’s copper production was disrupted. Seventeen percent of Chile’s copper production equates to almost 5 percent of world copper production," according to a report in Business Week. 

As a result, copper prices surged 5.6% on world markets, pushing them to a 5-week high, with the biggest jump in 11 months, before retreating some.

Analysts expect most of the mines to get back online quickly if they haven't already resumed production, but there are worries about power, transportation, and export capabilities.

Arizona produces more than 60% of the copper used in the U.S. so the higher prices and possible reduced supply from Chile are having an impact on local mines.

Freeport McMoRan's Candelaria mine [right. Photo credit, Freeport]  is reported as restoring operations after power disruptions following the quake but otherwise reports no damage.

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