Chile earthquake lights fire under copper price

Chile earthquake lights fire under copper priceCopper futures trading on the Comex market burst higher in New York on Thursday after an earthquake in the main copper producing region of Chile prompted traders to chase the metal higher.

Copper for delivery in December jumped over 3% from yesterday’s close to 3.05 a pound ($6,724 a tonne) in midday trade. Last month copper touched a three-year high just shy of $3.18 a pound (more than $7,000 a tonne) and year to date gains are in excess of 20%.

Chile accounts for nearly 30% of the world’s copper output and some of the world’s biggest mines are located near the city of Calama in the Antofagasta region where the 5.4 magnitude earthquake occurred.

State-owned giant Codelco which operates the Radomiro Tomic and Ministro Hales mines in the region and London-listed Antofagasta, owner of the Centinela mine reported no significant damage to property or injuries and the mines were operating normally.

Chilean production declined by 9% or 245,000 tonnes during the first half of the year due to an extended strike at the BHP-operated Escondida mine, the world’s largest copper operation, and lower output from Codelco mines according to the International Copper Study Group.