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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.