Material Prices

Copper has bounced and is back on the rise. From a low of $2.40 a few weeks ago, it’s gone back up to $3. It’s still a whole lot better than the $4 it hit a while back, but not nearly low enough or stable enough for metal stampers to specify it reliably.

Other metals:
Zinc, having hit $2, is down to $1.45, but there was a short run up a few weeks ago.
Nickel, which was $3 5 years ago, is now $22, more than 5 times the price of 5 years ago and shows no sign of slowing down.

You can see the historical charts yourself here: Copper, Zinc & Nickel
all courtesy of Kitco Metals.

Manila sees sharp rise in copper, gold output

Gulf Times
Philippine copper output is expected to rise 85% this year and gold output by 16% due to the opening of new mines funded by foreigners, Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes said yesterday.
“Our projections show that, indeed, the Philippine mining industry is facing a major take-off in the next two to three years as five of the world’s largest mining players are now in the country doing exploration and mining development,” Reyes told Reuters in an e-mail, in response to questions.

Future copper project quality is poor compared to today’s mines

For a longer term view, this sobering information from Mineweb:
Scotia Capital metals analyst Onno Rutter Sunday said the quality of future copper projects is generally lower than currently producing copper mines, noting lower grades and the remote locations in politically unstable areas.

In a presentation to the Prospectors and Developers Association Conference in Toronto, Rutter said the project pipeline for copper “appears barely adequate to supply the market.”

But the timeframe is fairly long …

Scotia forecasts an annual global copper demand growth rate ranging from 3.7% to 4.6% until 2010. Meanwhile, despite some direct predictions, Rutter insisted that copper reserves are not running out any time soon, estimating that 28 years of copper supply is still available in proven and probable reserves.

Rutter asserted that the world remains in a copper supercycle where inventories remain low by historic standards, and price volatility is expected to remain high over the next four years.

Meanwhile, Rutter speculated that long-term copper demand may be impacted by what he called irreversible substitution.

Commodities: Nickel and copper lead a slump amid worry on growth

International Herald Tribune
Nickel and copper led a global slump in commodities Monday as tumbling share prices stoked concern that slowing Chinese and U.S. economic growth would curb demand for raw materials.

Nickel fell 3.7 percent, its biggest drop in a month, after stockpiles rose for a fourth consecutive session. Copper dropped 3 percent and oil fell almost 2 percent. Commodities climbed to record levels in May before ending lower last year.

Katanga Mining announces higher grade copper and cobat reserves at Kamoto
Production at the Kamoto mine is scheduled to begin late this year and according to the company, once fully operational, the mine will produce 150,000 tonnes of copper and 5, 000 tonnes of cobalt per annum at one of the world’s lowest operating costs.

A new source of copper would be a handy thing ’round about now, what with copper prices still way above “normal” and once again on the rise.

Metal stampers need stable resource prices in order to make good purchasing decisions. This up and down stuff is nuts. Makers of small parts especially have no market clout with the suppliers and must accept whatever the going price is. Which can make or break profits for small part stampers.

Copper under pressure, drags others lower

Can we all say, Hallelujah, brother? It’s about time speculators got out of the base metals marketplace. Those of us who make a living in this area need a more stable raw material price.

Copper prices have fallen 15 percent so far in 2007 and are down almost 40 percent from May’s record $8,800-a-tonne high.
Traders said many of the funds had or were about to leave the base metals complex to return to their core activities such as equities, bonds and currencies.
‘The game has changed completely…base metals are no longer the apple in the eye of the funds,’ the trader said.