Antofagasta agrees copper charges for 2021, Codelco to follow

A worker at Los Pelambres copper mine. (Image courtesy of Antofagasta Plc).

Antofagasta Plc and Codelco will supply copper concentrate at treatment and refining charges of $59.50 per tonne and 5.95 cents per lb in 2021, signing up at the benchmark rate miners have now managed to lower for six years in a row.

Two sources with knowledge of the matter said miner Antofagasta had agreed to supply copper concentrate at those rates to smelters in China and Japan.

State-owned Codelco, which is the world’s biggest producer of mined copper, said in an emailed statement it will also offer customers supply at those rates for next year.

The charges, which are paid by miners to smelters to process copper ore into refined metal, are the same as those agreed by Freeport-McMoRan Inc and Chinese smelters on Monday.

The annual benchmark is referenced in supply contracts worldwide, playing a significant role in determining the profitability of both miners and smelters.

It was as high as $107 a tonne in 2015 but has now fallen for six years in a row to its lowest since 2011 as smelting capacity in top copper consumer China expands and mine supply tightens, meaning smelters have to accept lower terms to ensure they have enough feedstock.

Antofagasta first settled with Japanese smelters this week and then with Chinese customers including Jiangxi Copper and Tongling Nonferrous’ Jinlong smelter, one of the sources said.

Both sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to media.

Antofagasta did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Jiangxi Copper and Tongling Nonferrous did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside normal business hours.

(By Tom Daly; Editing by Susan Fenton and Elaine Hardcastle)

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