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A worker loads copper cathodes into a warehouse near Yangshan Deep Water Port, south of Shanghai, in this March 23, 2012 file photo.
A worker loads copper cathodes into a warehouse near Yangshan Deep Water Port, south of Shanghai, in this March 23, 2012 file photo.
(Carlow Barria/Reuters)

FINANCIAL TIMES

If China keeps slowing, copper’s in for a meltdown

Lex is a premium daily commentary service from the Financial Times. It helps readers make better investment decisions by highlighting key emerging risks and opportunities.

Copper was supposed to be the metal which could withstand any slowdown in China. A geological barrier to entry exacerbated by bad weather, earthquakes, permits and declining grades in old mines is a constraint on supply. Reserves in Chile, the world’s biggest producer, are falling by an average 5 per cent a year. Yet the copper price has fallen by 5 per cent since China, the world’s largest importer of the red metal, announced worse than expected growth for the first quarter over the weekend.