TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Copper has been on a rollercoaster ride over the past year, with the price of the metal hitting a record $4.60/lb before diving to $3.08/lb, but Scotiabank economist and commodity markets specialist Patricia Mohr said the metal would likely average “a very profitable” $4/lb this year and next.
That’s not to say there won’t be price volatility in 2012 also.
According to Mohr, copper prices —currently at $3.65/lb — could rally further next spring, as China rebuilds its inventories.
Towards the end of the year, new mine production coming on stream could push price back down, however.
In the nearer term, Mohr was upbeat on prices for the metal, used in electrical wiring and plumbing.
“Copper prices were over-sold in early October, given prospects for a supply deficit in the fourth quarter,” she wrote in Scotiabank’s monthly commodity price index report.
“Prices remain exceptionally profitable, yielding a 60% profit margin over average world break-even costs including depreciation.”
As for coking coal, used in steel production, Mohr said prices, which have eased over the past few weeks as credit markets tightened in China and fears grew over the global economy, would likely drop further in early 2012.
By the second quarter, though, prices should level out and start rising again, she predicted.
Coking coal fell from its February peak of $337/t free-on-board Australia to $243/t in late October.
Iron-ore prices, which have also dropped around 30% over the past two months, could ease further this year.
“Chinese steel makers are now limiting their raw material purchases to immediate requirements, given lower prices for steel. The normal seasonal pick-up in China’s steel output in the fourth quarter may not occur this year,” Mohr said.