Negotiations come towards the end of a year dominated by an influx of copper scrap and off-grade material saturating the market and softening spot premiums.
Chilean state miner-smelter Codelco slashed its offer by 27% to settle contracts with consumers in China at $72 per tonne in 2017 – the first time it had offered lower than its European market level and an indication that producers are looking to gain long-term market volume in growing markets.
And despite sluggish cathode markets enabling London Metal Exchange stocks to yo-yo throughout the year most market players expect little change on annual contracts in 2018 after drastic cuts last time around.
Asian, European and US markets have experienced stable demand for most of the year, with a notable lack of Chinese imports in the traditionally busy post-New Year March February-March months.
All eyes on scrap ban in China
Chinese copper cathode buyers expect numbers once...