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Copper price bounces back on Chile supply concerns

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Copper price bounced back on Tuesday as worries about supplies from top producer Chile gathered pace.

BHP and the workers union at its Escondida copper mine said late on Monday they would extend government-mediated contract talks by a day in a last-ditch effort to stave off a strike. The world’s biggest copper mine accounts for about 4.5% of global copper supplies estimated at roughly 24 million tonnes this year.

Several mines in the world’s top copper producer country are in the throes of tense labor negotiations.

Workers at JX Nippon Copper’s Caserones mine decided to walk off the job beginning today after last-ditch talks over a collective labor contract collapsed on Monday. Caserones produced 126,972 tonnes of copper in 2020.

Copper for delivery in September rose 1.9% from Monday’s settlement price, touching $4.372 per pound ($9,618 per tonne) on the Comex market in New York.

Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices

Meanwhile, concerns about Chinese demand and a firmer dollar tempered optimism for higher prices.

China’s January-to-July copper import volumes dropped by more than a tenth compared with the first seven months of 2020.

The biggest copper buyer in the world bought 3.219 million tonnes of unwrought copper and copper products from January to July, down 10.6% compared with the same period in 2020.

“The potential for disruptions in Chile is creating some jitters, but the dollar is up and China growth is slowing,” a metals trader told Reuters.

(With files from Reuters and Bloomberg)

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