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Codelco customers in Asia wary, but talks positive: exec

Keywords: Tags  Codelco, Thomas Keller, copper contracts, Alex Harrison

SHANGHAI — Corporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco) customers in Asia are more cautious in negotiations for 2013 copper contracts than they were a year ago, according to chief executive officer Thomas Keller.

"We’ve just completed market activity in South Korea and Taiwan. Customers are a bit more cautious, but we’re satisfied with our progress on sales for next year," he told AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin. "There are no big surprises."

Keller refused to discuss the levels at which contracts likely would settle, noting that it was a private matter between the Santiago, Chile-based company and its customers.

"Our initial discussions with customers in China are very healthy and encouraging," he said. "The question is by how much demand will grow."

Keller spoke shortly before buyers in China told Metal Bulletin that term premiums for 2013 were being offered at levels around $12 per tonne below those for this year’s contracts (, Nov. 28), noting that he believes two factors are of particular significance.

"Urbanization in China is going to stay with us," he said. "We heard this morning that urbanization in China is not at 50 percent but at 40 percent, and we need to reach 65 percent." Copper also is required for new products such as hybrid cars.

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