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Copper in 2016: Could Curtailments Balance New Supply?

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Copper in 2016

Previously, we saw that Chinese copper demand could be subdued in 2016 as well. In this part of the series, we’ll explore how copper’s supply could shape up this year.

Although copper producers such as Glencore (GLNCY) and Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) have announced some production curtailments, other copper producers have not followed suit. Moreover, new supply from under-development projects is expected to hit the market in the next couple of years.

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Freeport-McMoRan

Despite announcing production curtailments in 2015, Freeport-McMoRan’s copper production is expected to increase by 500,000 metric tons in fiscal 2016. This is almost a quarter above what Freeport produced in fiscal 2015. Freeport’s curtailments would be more than offset by new supply from its Cerro Verde mine in Peru. Peru (EPU) expects to produce 65% more copper in 2016 as compared to last year.

Glencore announced a series of production cutbacks last year. According to Glencore, these actions would reduce its mined copper production by 455,000 metric tons by the end of 2017. However, only the Katanga mine has been immediately idled. Looking at Glencore’s fiscal 2016 guidance, its copper production is expected to drop by ~85,000 metric tons as compared to fiscal 2015.

Other miners

Southern Copper (SCCO) expects its copper production to increase by 135,000 metric tons in fiscal 2016 as compared to 2015. Codelco, which is the largest global copper miner, expects its 2016 copper production to be similar to last year’s levels.

In the case of BHP Billiton (BHP), we might see a small increase in production next year as the company had earlier stated that fiscal 2016 would mark the “low point in production for the remainder of the decade.” BHP’s fiscal year ends on June 30.

In the next part, we’ll discuss copper’s supply side dynamics.

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