Rio Tinto and BHP, two of the world's leading producers, have recently started to make moves to trade copper concentrates, people with direct knowledge of the matter told Fastmarkets, echoing a move made by rival Anglo American.
BHP has begun to trade third-party copper concentrates, buying cargoes from other companies to then sell on to its customers. And Rio Tinto has entered into physical swap deals - exchanging material from its giant Mongolian mine Oyu Tolgoi mine for other concentrates - and is widening the scope for its Kennecott smelter's supply feed.
Both companies are in the early stages of moving to more flexible marketing operations, both of which are headquartered in Singapore, the sources said.
The dealings mark a shift in mentality for the companies while copper miners globally are under pressure to squeeze profits from all avenues rather than tying commercial terms to market benchmark-related contracts.
"They're putting themselves under pressure...