Chilean copper miner Antofagasta has inked a deal to sell copper concentrate to Chinese smelters covering up to half of its volume production in 2022. The agreement, which includes deals with Jiangxi Copper, Tongling Nonferrous, and China Copper comes at least one quarter earlier than the historical cycle for such deals. 

 

One deal was disclosed for concentrate and treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) of $56/mt or 5.6¢/lb ($123/mt equivalent) per media reports, with most other deals trending near the mid-$50/mt range with deliveries beginning in July 2021 and through 2022.  

 

In 2020, Antofagasta proceeded with similar deals with TC/RCs of $60/mt, which now have lowered by about $4/mt due to market tightness of the metal. Miners pay the TC/RCs when they sell copper concentrate to be refined into final metal.  

 

Spot TC/RC levels are at $42.5/mt after some Chinese smelters reduced concentrate purchases in H1 2021, though state-funded smelters agreed to $55/mt for Q3 2021. The acceptance of the higher levels in the recent Antofagasta deal against the average points to rising demand and tight global inventories. 

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