Copper concentrate TC/RCs nosedive in March as smelters tap spot market for tonnages

Treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) for spot copper concentrates dropped sharply in early March with Chinese smelters entering the market in earnest for units, while a lack of supply from blockaded Las Bambas mine has also prompted spot buying.

The Fastmarkets TC/RC index for spot copper concentrates dropped by $5.3 per tonne / 0.53 cents per lb on March 15 to $69/6.9 cents, the lowest since May 2019.
Market terms had leveled out toward the end of February, but TC/RCs have dropped again after smelters began to cover short positions for the second quarter of 2019.
The drop is the biggest move on the index since a jump last June. Market participants are uncertain as to whether it is a seasonal dip before thinner spot buying in the third and fourth quarters, or if low terms are here to stay.
The sudden surge in spot buying comes ahead of a period in which several large copper smelters will be closed for prolonged planned maintenance.

And with Sterlite’s Tuticorin smelter now expected to be out of action for the coming two quarters at least...


Anna Xu

Archie Hunter

Julian Luk

March 18, 2019

17:30 GMT

London, Shanghai