The price of copper, Chile's biggest export, may not rebound past 2 US dollars per pound after the international credit crisis hammered speculators, according to Santiago Gonzalez, Chile's Mining minister. Copper reached last week a four year low.
Copper futures for March last week were in the range of 1.27 US dollars a pound on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Comex division. Copper price has plunged 70% from a record 4.2605 US dollars on May 5. Copper seen on the defensive well into the first quarter of 2009 due to fears of demand deterioration from the global economic slowdown - Frank Lesh, broker and futures analyst with Future Path Trading in Chicago. Slowing copper consumption reflected in steadily building supplies in London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouses, where they increased by 3,250 tonnes to 331,450 tons last Wednesday on Christmas eve. Meantime world refined copper surplus rose 67% in January-September as weak demand in Japan, the European Union and the United States more than offset strong Chinese demand - the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) Japanese smelters will push for their first hike in copper processing fees in more than three years in 2009, aiming to almost double the price due to an expected rise in the raw material's availability.