SANTIAGO (Scrap Monster): Copper prices will continue be supported by a physical market tightly balanced between supply and demand, said Thomas Keller, CEO of Chile's Codelco, the world's biggest producer of the red metal.
“The production difficulties at existing mines and delays affecting new projects coming into production suggested the market will remain in balance or deficit over the coming years. The business fundamentals do not allow us to forecast prices dramatically different to the ones we can see today,"he added.
In recent weeks, BHP Billiton shelved plans for a $20 billion expansion of its Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine in Australia, citing market uncertainty, while the Peruvian government suspended Newmont Mining's Minas Conga copper and gold project in Peru in the face of local opposition.
Codelco posted a 39% drop in earnings for the first six months of the year, as revenues were slashed on lower copper prices and lower production, particularly the company's century-old Chuquicamata pit.
Copper prices have declined this year over concerns about the eurozone's financial crisis, lackluster growth in developed countries and a cooling Chinese economy.
But Keller, who took the helm at Codelco just under three months ago, said copper prices have proved "quite resistant" to the stream of bad news from around the world and predicted prices to hold above $3/lb.
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