With prices at half the level they were in the first part of 2008, 2009 looks like being a tough year for most in the copper supply chain. But the general consensus is the year will one of two halves, with demand and prices recovering as we head into the second semester. Just how quickly the industry can move back towards balance will be a key discussion point at Metal Bulletin Events' 22nd International Copper Conference – a timely meeting place for those in the copper business who want to get a handle on where the challenges – and increasingly the opportunities – lies.
Having outperformed many other commodities in the last three or four years, when copper’s fall came it was always likely to be heavy. But the downside may well be overdone, given the red metal’s singular failure to keep production plans on track in recent years. High prices and substitution may have eaten into the demand side, a factor now compounded by the credit squeeze and consumer conservatism. But on the opposite side of the coin, a combination of technical problems, falling ore grades, labour unrest, re-estimated mine economics and financing restraints could equally keep a rein on supply growth. ICSG figures show a less than 2% rise in mine output in 2008, with most of the growth feeding SX-EW production, and while a 10% increase is forecast for 2009, past experience shows us that actual output tends to fall short of expectations.
By June 2009, the current gloom and doom should be starting to lift, allowing the copper industry experts on Metal Bulletin’s conference programme to provide you with a clearer view of the mid to longer-term marketplace – especially in terms of both primary and secondary supply growth, and demand dynamics in the key consuming markets. If there is just one copper industry event that you attend in 2009, it should be this one – the key forum for senior industry debate and global networking.
Key conference themes:
• Mine supply analysis – will it live up to forecasts or will we continue to see disruptions and delays?
• Global and regional economics – how are they impacting on mine project viability and finance availability?
• The risk-reward factor in copper mining – can Africa and other “difficult” mining provinces fill the gap?
• Secondary copper – the silent and growing supply source. How much more is there and how robust are recycling economics?
• The market roller coaster – from $9,000 to $3,000. Where to next and what is driving prices? Has hedging really been a help for copper industry players?
• Industry returns along the supply chain – an analysis of costs, prices, premiums and TC/RCs. Are the miners still getting the lion’s share?
• Copper consumption – is the current slump a blip or can growth trends get back on track? Which applications will lead the way?
• What prospects for copper demand in China, India, Brazil and other emerging economies? Is it right to pin everyone’s hopes on them?