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  • Writer's pictureShernel Thielman

The Copper Market Awakens: Understanding the Surge and Supply Squeeze

The copper market has recently experienced a significant surge, breaking out of its year-long slumber to reach an eleven-month high. This sudden uptick in price can be attributed to China's copper smelters agreeing to curb output in response to a tighter-than-expected raw materials market. The collapse of spot treatment charges, indicating a shortage of concentrates in the spot market, has further fueled this price rally.

The unexpected closure of major mines, such as First Quantum's Cobre Panama mine, has exacerbated the supply shortage in China's copper supply chain. Consequently, Chinese producers are scrambling to secure replacement tonnage, leading to a drastic drop in processing fees. In response to the crisis, China's Nonferrous Metals Industry Association has advised copper smelters to curtail production, a commitment that was reaffirmed at a recent meeting.

While China's production restraint may alleviate some supply pressures, the rapid build-out of copper smelting capacity both in China and globally presents a significant challenge. The surge in new smelting capacity, coupled with mine supply issues, has intensified the concentrates squeeze and contributed to the collapse in processing fees.

Despite the potential for increased output from China, market sentiment has shifted, with investors now focusing on copper's micro dynamics of stretched supply and chronic under-investment in new mines. While the refined copper market may still be in a supply surplus this year, the recent developments in the copper market have reignited the bull narrative for copper, signaling a potential shift in the market dynamics.

In conclusion, while the surge in copper prices and supply constraints present opportunities for investors, it's essential to approach investment decisions with caution and conduct thorough due diligence. The copper market remains subject to various macroeconomic and microeconomic factors that can impact prices and investment outcomes.

Investment Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice. Investing in commodities such as copper carries inherent risks, and investors should conduct their own research and seek professional guidance before making any investment decisions.

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