On Monday, the copper price surged to $3.25 a pound or $7,165 a tonne, its highest level in more than three-and-half years over optimism about the strength of the economy of top consumer China and worries about global supply.
Confirmation of mine disruptions came on Tuesday in Australia after world number two miner Rio Tinto announced copper production in the third quarter declined by 3% to 120,600 tonnes compared to the same three months in 2016, around 30,000 tonnes below market expectations.
The Anglo-Australian giant said the decline in year on year output was the result of lower copper head grades at the Rio Tinto Kennecott mine in the US and its Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold operation in Mongolia.
Rio also cut back its guidance for the year to between 460,000 and 480,000 tonnes compared to previous estimates of 500–550,000 thousand tonnes in 2017, following the third quarter impact of the delayed ramp-up of the Escondida expansion in Chile and fourth quarter mine sequencing changes at Kennecott in Utah.
The company also announced in early October a serious incident at the Kennecott smelter resulted in a fatality and that investigations are currently underway.
Other events during the third quarter from Rio Tinto’s production report include: