Antofagasta sees forecast global copper surplus disappearing in 2015
By Anthony Esposito and Fabian Cambero
SANTIAGO, April 14 (Reuters) - London-listed Antofagasta Minerals' newly installed chief executive sees the global copper market surplus practically disappearing this year due to kinks in output.
Analysts had anticipated seeing the first surplus in years in 2015, to the tune of 500,000 to 600,000 tonnes copper, but production stoppages, such as those caused by recent heavy rains and mudslides in northern Chile, have curtailed those estimates.
"What we've seen is that the surplus has been disappearing and we're probably talking about a market that is virtually in balance," Ivan Arriagada told Reuters in one of his first media interviews since assuming as CEO in February.
Antofagasta's flagship Los Pelambres mine in central Chile lost 8,500 tonnes of refined copper production earlier this year after protests by local villagers blocked access to the mining complex.
In light of the production loss, Antofagasta is in the process of refining its initial guidance of 710,000 tonnes of copper production for 2015 "depending on how much of that can be recovered," he said.
Arriagada sees the global copper market in a slight surplus of 100,000 to 150,000 tonnes this year, and remaining balanced in 2016 before returning to a deficit in 2017, "at which time there will be upward pressure on prices."
For this year, copper prices should fluctuate between $2.70 and $3.00 per pound, in line with market expectations, according to Arriagada.