Codelco Ends Copper Strike After Losing Out to BHP in April

A strike at Codelco’s Chuquicamata copper mine has ended after two weeks, S&P Global Platts reports, removing disruptions to the mine which accounted for around 17% of Codelco’s production in 2018. The strike comes amid a broad reversal in fortunes for Chile’s copper mining industry in early 2018.

Panjiva data shows total exports of copper ore and copper cathode fell 8.2% year over year in April after a 2.9% drop in the first quarter. That came after a 15.0% surge in exports to $33.5 billion in 2018. A downturn in copper cathode exports of 10.2% in tonnage terms and 5.1% in price terms in April, alongside an 8.7% slide in copper ore prices per ton were to blame.


Chart segments Chilean copper exports by product on a monthly and three-month average basis.
Source: Panjiva

The U.S.-China trade war may be making itself felt in the form of reduced demand for copper cathode from China – which fell 41.8% year over year in April – while exports to the U.S. caught up with a 15.4% increase. It’s unlikely, as flagged in Panjiva’s research of Jun. 27, that the trade war will be resolved in the near-term.


Chart segments Chilean copper cathode exports by destination. Source: Panjiva

The run-up to the strike also likely took its toll on production – Codelco’sexports in April fell 40.9% year over year in April after a 28.5% drop in 1Q. By contrast BHP’s mines at Escondida and Spence saw a 35.4% surge in exports in April after a 68.3% drop in 1Q.

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Chart segments Chilean copper cathode exports by shipper for Codelco and BHP
( Escondida and Spence mines) on a monthly and three-month average basis. Source: Panjiva

Date of publication: July 1, 2019

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