Copper price hits $10,000 nearing all-time high
Copper topped $10,000 a metric ton for the first time since 2011, nearing the all-time high set that year as rebounding economies stoke demand and mines struggle to keep up.
Prices rose as much as 1.3% to $10,008 a ton on the London Metal Exchange, before slipping back to trade near unchanged, reports Bloomberg.The metal hit a record $10,190 in February 2011.
Copper has been among the best performers in a month where metals ranging from aluminum to iron ore have surged to the highest in years. The rally is being fueled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the virus pandemic. A push toward cleaner energy sources is also seen boosting consumption of copper, used in everything from electric vehicles to solar power systems, further straining supplies.
“This is a remarkable run for copper in terms of magnitude and consistency,” said Tai Wong, head of metals derivatives trading at BMO Capital Markets. “The all-time high at $10,190 is just around corner and now practically a foregone conclusion.”
Investors have piled into copper, with aggregate open interest in Shanghai Futures Exchange copper contracts at the highest in more than a year and hedge fund managers boosting bullish Comex copper bets in the week ended April 20.
With copper demand set to soar once more, there are mounting concerns that producers will struggle to plug the gap as they battle a host of technical and regulatory pressures. In the longer term, producers worry that plans to boost mining royalties could stifle investment.
Prices have doubled from lows in March, along with a surge across raw materials from oil to agriculture. That’s spurring debate about whether the current boom may herald a so-called commodities supercycle. It has also helped push mining shares to multiyear highs.
Copper pared earlier gains as the dollar gained, reducing the appeal of the metal for investors holding other currencies.
“The copper rally still has legs to go,” said Wenyu Yao, senior commodities strategist at ING Bank. “The outlook for the U.S. economy keeps getting better. Economic reopening coupled with massive stimulus, faster-than-expected vaccine rollouts and supportive fundamentals all point to even higher prices.”
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.