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Copper
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 19 January 2011 12:23

U.S.Geological Survey (USGS): Copper

 

Statistics and Information: Copper is usually found in nature in association with sulfur. Pure copper metal is generally produced from a multistage process, beginning with the mining and concentrating of low-grade ores containing copper sulfide minerals, and followed by smelting and electrolytic refining to produce a pure copper cathode. An increasing share of copper is produced from acid leaching of oxidized ores. Copper is one of the oldest metals ever used and has been one of the important materials in the development of civilization. Because of its properties, singularly or in combination, of high ductility, malleability, and thermal and electrical conductivity, and its resistance to corrosion, copper has become a major industrial metal, ranking third after iron and aluminum in terms of quantities consumed. Electrical uses of copper, including power transmission and generation, building wiring, telecommunication, and electrical and electronic products, account for about three quarters of total copper use. Building construction is the single largest market, followed by electronics and electronic products, transportation, industrial machinery, and consumer and general products. Copper byproducts from manufacturing and obsolete copper products are readily recycled and contribute significantly to copper supply.

Copper
(Data in thousand metric tons of copper content unless otherwise noted)

 

U.S. Domestic Production and Use: Domestic mine production in 2008 increased by about 12% to 1.3 million tons and its value rose to about $9.4 billion. The principal mining States, in descending order of production—Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, and Montana—accounted for more than 99% of domestic production; copper also was recovered at mines in Idaho and Missouri. Although copper was recovered at 27 mines operating in the United States, 17 mines accounted for about 99% of production. Three primary smelters, 4 electrolytic and 3 fire refineries, and 15 solvent extraction-electrowinning facilities operated during the year. Refined copper and direct-melt scrap were consumed at about 30 brass mills; 16 rod mills; and 500 foundries, chemical plants, and miscellaneous consumers. Copper and copper alloy products were used in building construction, 49%; electric and electronic products, 21%; transportation equipment, 10%; consumer and general products, 11%; and industrial machinery and equipment, 9%.(1)

U.S. Recycling: Old scrap, converted to refined metal and alloys, provided 140,000 tons of copper, equivalent to 6% of apparent consumption. Purchased new scrap, derived from fabricating operations, yielded 750,000 tons of contained copper; about 89% of the copper contained in new scrap was consumed at brass or wire-rod mills. Of the total copper recovered from scrap (including aluminum- and nickel-based scrap), brass mills recovered 72%; miscellaneous manufacturers, foundries, and chemical plants, 14%; ingot makers, 9%; and copper smelters and refiners, 5%. Copper in all old and new, refined or remelted scrap contributed about 31% of the U.S. copper supply.

U.S. Import Sources (2004-07): Unmanufactured: Chile, 40%; Canada, 33%; Peru, 13%; Mexico, 6%; and other, 8%. Refined copper accounted for 79% of unwrought copper imports.

U.S. Tariff:

Item

Number

Normal trade relations 12/31/2008

Copper ores and concentrates

2603.00.0000

1.7¢/kg on lead content.

Refined and alloys, unwrought

7403.00.0000

1.0% ad val.

Copper wire (rod)

7408.11.6000

3.0% ad val.

U.S. Depletion Allowance: 15% (Domestic), 14% (Foreign).

Events, Trends, and Issues: Although copper prices began to weaken in September, on average copper prices during the first 9 months of 2008 remained at or near record-high levels. The London Metal Exchange Ltd. (LME) price reached an alltime high of $4.08 per pound in April and averaged $3.61 per pound for the first 9 months of the year. Global commodity exchange inventories, which began the year at low levels, trended downward for the first 9 months of the year. Despite numerous announced expansions in mine capacity, estimated global copper mine production for the first 9 months of the year was slightly lower than that for the same period of 2007. Numerous factors, including labor unrest, lower ore grades, rapidly escalating production costs, technical problems, and utility and equipment shortages, contributed to lower than anticipated production. In October, concurrent with development of the global financial crisis, copper prices plummeted, the LME price falling below $1.70 per pound. Though it cautioned that the economic crisis could significantly alter projections, the International Copper Study Group6 forecast a small annual production surplus to develop by yearend that would expand to about 300,000 tons in 2009.

In the United States, mine production rose owing to the startup of two major mining projects and expanded output of existing operations. In October, however, the leading U.S. producer announced that the drop in copper prices and rising production costs would lead to revaluation of its planned global expansions. Owing to lower ore grades and increases in energy, labor, mining rates, and other input costs, the company’s U.S. production costs had risen by 48% to $1.24 per pound of copper in the first 9 months of 2008 from the comparative period in 2007. Domestic consumption of refined copper continued to trend lower owing to weaker housing and automotive demand and brass mill closings. Domestic mine production was expected to rise by more than 200,000 tons in 2009 owing to the startup of new production and increased capacity utilization, while consumption was expected to decline further.

World Mine Production, Reserves, and Reserve Base: Official reserves reported by China may include small and low-grade deposits not currently economic to develop. Significant upward revisions to reserves for Chile, Kazakhstan, Mexico, and Peru are based on tabulated data from individual company reports.

Mine Production

Reserves

Reserve Base

2007

2008 (e)

United States

1,200

1,310

35,000

70,000

Australia

870

850

24,000

43,000

Canada

589

590

10,000

20,000

Chile

5,560

5,600

160,000

360,000

China

946

1,000

30,000

63,000

Indonesia

797

650

36,000

38,000

Kazakhstan

407

460

18,000

22,000

Mexico

347

270

38,000

40,000

Peru

1,190

1,220

60,000

120,000

Poland

452

430

30,000

48,000

Russia

740

750

20,000

30,000

Zambia

520

560

19,000

35,000

Other Countries

1,840

2,030

70,000

110,000

World total (rounded)

15,400

15,700

550,000

1,000,000

World Resources: A recent assessment of U.S. copper resources indicated 550 million tons of copper in identified (260 million tons) and undiscovered resources (290 million tons).8 A preliminary assessment indicates that global land-based resources exceed 3 billion tons. Deep-sea nodules were estimated to contain 700 million tons of copper.

Substitutes: Aluminum substitutes for copper in power cables, electrical equipment, automobile radiators, and cooling and refrigeration tube; titanium and steel are used in heat exchangers; optical fiber substitutes for copper in some telecommunications applications; and plastics substitute for copper in water pipe, drain pipe, and plumbing fixtures.

(e) Estimated.
(1) Some electrical components are included in each end use. Distribution for 2006 by the Copper Development Association, Inc., 2007
(2) No tariff for Canada and Mexico for items shown. Tariffs for other countries for some items may be eliminated under special trade agreements.
(3) U.S. Geological Survey National Mineral Resource Assessment Team, 2000, 1998 assessment of undiscovered deposits of gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc in the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1178, 21


U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, January 2009

 
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