China copper smelters set Q3 treatment charge floor at $55/t

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China’s top copper smelters on Friday set their floor treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) for the third quarter at $55 per tonne and 5.5 cents per lb after a meeting in the city of Tongling, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The state-backed members of the China Smelters Purchase Team (CSPT) had set no minimum charges for the second quarter of this year, while the floor in the first quarter was $53 per tonne and 5.3 cents per lb.

TC/RCs, a key source of revenue for smelters, are paid by miners when they sell copper concentrate, or semi-processed ore, to be refined into metal. The charges go down when the concentrate market tightens and smelters have to accept lower terms to secure feedstock, while they go up when more supply is available, giving smelters more bargaining power.

CSPT members – which include Tongling Nonferrous and Jiangxi Copper – are supposed to adhere to the quarterly floor in any spot concentrate deals.

The sources declined to be identified as the meeting was private.

Spot treatment charges for copper concentrate in China, the world’s biggest copper consumer, have been languishing near-decade lows in 2021 amid tight mine supply globally, squeezing smelters’ margins.

They are currently assessed by Asian Metal at $38.50 a tonne, the highest since March, after a group of mostly CSPT smelters last month agreed to cut concentrate purchases this year. The rates remain far more favourable for miners, however.

(By Emily Chow, Shivani Singh and Tom Daly; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Stephen Coates)

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