[Ferro-Alloys.com]China's imported copper concentrate trade boomed last week on greater need for replenishment from smelters, industry sources in China said Monday.
Jiangxi Copper Corp in its weekly copper report said starting from the second quarter, Chinese copper producers was more eager to replenish concentrate stocks, resulting in more active trading last week.
Spot TC/RCs for imported concentrate for Chinese smelters were at $70-$78/mt and 7-7.8 cents/lb last week, flat from the preceding week, according to Chinese sources.
But back in January, fees were much higher at $75-87/mt, and 7.5-8.7 cents/lb last week.
Jiangxi Copper said that in Q2, several copper smelting projects in China are expected to come online, spurring concentrate buying, so market players have a bearish view on the outlook for spot TC/RCs.
The producer said market participants were eying the progress of the commissioning of new Chinese smelting projects as well as talks between Escondida mine and its labor union for direction on the future trend for fees.
State Power Investment Corp. said in its weekly copper report the continuous fall in fees showed tight mined copper supply. It said last week spot TC/RCs have fallen below $70/mt and 7 cents/lb as market players foresaw a steady shrinkage of concentrate supply.
China's stricter environment protection controls have hit mined copper supply and demand in China, with an estimated domestic mined copper capacity of 370,000-380,000 mt a year in the remote Central and West China which lack eco-friendly facilities expected to be affected.
China Smelters Purchase Team has set its floor TC/RCs for Q2 at $78/mt and 7.8 cents/lb, down $9/mt and 0.9 cents/lb from Q1, according to Jiangxi Copper.
Set up in November 2003 to negotiate TC/RCs jointly with overseas copper mines, CSPT set floor fees of $95/mt, 9.5 cents/lb for Q4 2017.
TC/RCs, the fees paid to smelters by mines, for converting the concentrate into refined copper, are a key source revenue for smelters. TC/RCs tend to rise and dip according to surplus and shortage in the mined copper market.
China imported 4.68 million mt of copper ore and concentrate in the first three months of this year, up 7.4% year on year, the latest data from the General Administration of Customs showed.
The country's mined copper demand in 2018 is expected to rise 7.7% year on year to 6.15 million mt, data from state-run metals consultancy Beijing Antaike showed.
China is set to add 550,000 mt/year of new blister copper output capacity and 650,000 mt/year of new refined copper output capacity this year, taking its blister copper and refined copper output capacity to 7.15 million mt/year and 11.57 million mt/year, respectively, by end-2018, Antaike data showed.
The country's mined copper surplus is forecast at 350,000 mt this year, widening from a surplus of 279,000 mt last year, Antaike data showed.
China's copper concentrate imports (25% metal contained in copper ore and concentrate) in 2018 is seen at 4.8 million mt, up from imports of 4.35 million last year, Antaike data showed.
- [Editor:Jiang Li Juan ]