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Copper price rises on supply disruption worries

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Copper prices rose on Thursday as supply concerns resurfaced in Peru, the world’s second-biggest producer of the industrial metal after neighboring Chile.

Copper for delivery in December rose 2.2% from Wednesday’s settlement price, touching $4.240 per pound ($9,328 per tonne).

Stocks of the metal in Shanghai Futures Exchange warehouses were last at their lowest since June 2009, and LME on-warrant inventories slid to 90,725 tonnes, down 27% in just a week.

An indigenous community in Peru’s Espinar province that blocked a key mining road on Wednesday plans to continue the blockade indefinitely, a local leader said, in protest against the government and Glencore PLC’s Antapaccay copper mine.

The conflict comes a day after the government defused a similar standoff for MMG’s Las Bambas mine.

The road is known in Peru as the mining corridor and has become a lightning rod in the country.

As of Wednesday, the community had blocked the road to protest against the environmental and social impact of the mine as well as the lack of government engagement with the local populace, said Flavio Huanque, a community leader in Espinar.

Huanque said earlier on Wednesday that one of the community’s demands was for the government to replace its prime minister, which President Pedro Castillo did later in the day, though it was not clear whether the replacement was related to the demand.

Related read: Peru president picks moderate cabinet criticized by his party

The former prime minister “came here on September 11 and showed an absolute lack of knowledge about the problems regarding the indigenous communities of Espinar,” Huanque told Reuters.

Still, Huanque said the blockade will continue until Antapaccay addresses their grievances, which include decades of complaints of environmental degradation.

Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices

Copper stocks in Shanghai Futures Exchange warehouses 2021

Earlier in the week, Vale said the production of copper concentrate at its Salobo mine is suspended due to a fire affecting a conveyor belt.

China

Copper analysts are reviewing their price forecasts for the metal after simultaneous disruptions in two key sectors in China that together make up more than half the country’s copper demand.

China is the world’s biggest user of copper, accounting for around 50% of global consumption.

The collapse of Chinese property developer Evergrande has ignited debt worries for the construction sector and a coal shortage that has cut power supplies to manufacturers stack up as bearish factors for copper over the near term, analysts said.

“Bearish short-term, bullish long-term is definitely a good way to sum it up. The longer-term demand dynamics are great. But short-term cyclical demand is clearly a worry,” said Colin Hamilton, MD at BMO Capital Markets.

ANZ predicts copper will hit $10,000 a tonne towards the end of 2021, while ING sees average fourth-quarter prices at $9,200.

Analysts at Citi recently cut their price forecasts for copper to $8,200 a tonne for the next three months from $8,800 previously, and to $8,600 for the first quarter of 2022 from $9,000.

“We are still strong believers in a copper super-cycle, and we see copper presenting a strong buying opportunity for medium- to long-term investors over the next three to six months,” Citi analysts said.

(With files from Reuters)

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