RPT-Supply of quality copper concentrate shrinks, sows seeds of price support
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* Flooding stalled mining in Chile
* Hit production of quality copper concentrate
* Should boost copper prices later this year
By Melanie Burton and Yuka Obayashi
MELBOURNE/TOKYO, July 3 (Reuters) - Supply of high quality copper concentrate shrank more than expected in the first half of this year due to output delays in top miner Chile, squeezing the pipeline for metal producers and likely supporting prices later in 2015, traders said.
Production from two of four mines in Chile that churn out clean, standard concentrate was stalled in the first half as the country was hit by floods, while the world's top mine, Escondida, has not tendered surplus concentrate for months, the traders and mining sources said.
Smelters blend clean concentrates with supply from mines that suffer from impurities such as arsenic, which have become more common as miners dig deeper into the earth's crust.
"The concentrate element is tightening up which will eventually flow through to a tighter refined market," said analyst Colin Hamilton at Macquarie in London Continuación...