Copper miners are poised for their worst quarter since 2008 after the coronavirus pandemic fueled demand fears for industrial metals and forced companies to curb mining operations.
The BI Global Copper Competitive Peers index has slumped 36 per cent this quarter, led by Teck Resources Ltd., Hudbay Minerals Inc. and Freeport-McMoRan Inc., which are all down more than 50 per cent.
The miners “are being hit from two sides,” said Daniel Briesemann, an analyst at Commerzbank AG, pointing to unprecedented disruptions to operations and supply chains and concerns about a global recession. Even with China’s back-to-work rate improving dramatically, “there’s still hardly any demand from the rest of the world.”
Miners, including those in Peru and Chile, the top copper producers, are being forced to halt or curtail production and processing. At least 17 per cent of global copper supply is at risk from closures, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Andrew Cosgrove. Caterpillar Inc. provided more evidence that global industrial activity is crumbling last week when the U.S. manufacturing giant said it was suspending some operations and pulling its 2020 financial outlook.
Copper for three-month delivery fell 0.4 per cent to settle at US$4,769.50 a metric ton at 5:51 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange. Copper is heading for its worst quarter since September 2011.
The tumbling prices may provide a buying opportunity for investors. UBS group AG recommends investors buy Americas copper producers as the firm sees one quarter of copper price weakness being “followed by six quarters of strength.” Analyst Andreas Housebroken recommends buying Freeport, Southern Copper Corp. and Grupo Mexico.