Miners cashing in on traders desperate for copper

MINING companies are cashing in on demand for copper by demanding huge upfront payments for the metal or extra-long supply contracts, said Bloomberg News.

Eurasian Resources Group is seeking upfront payment for as much as $1bn of its copper and aluminum production, in deals that have already drawn interest from bidders including Trafigura and Mercuria, said the newswire citing people familiar with the matter.

Other firms have recently inked ore-supply contracts stretching well into the second half of this decade, at firmly attractive terms for the miners, it said.

The demand is from traders where the space has become more competitive after Mercuria, and other cash-flush energy trading houses, have entered the metals space dominated by Glencore and Trafigura Group.

Bloomberg News said these developments show a number of contradictions that the industry is dealing with. Firstly, there is enough refined copper globally but the world is desperately short of concentrates needed to feed a fast-growing network of smelters.

Secondly, copper demand is relatively tepid for now, but both physical and financial players are positioning for widening deficits and soaring prices in the coming years.

Traders paying cash upfront to secure supply is not unusual in commodities, but the size of the deals being offered by ERG are surprisingly large, indicating how the market has turned heavily in favor of sellers, said Bloomberg News.