Copper topped $10,000 a metric tonne for the first time since 2011, nearing the all-time high set that year as rebounding economies stoke demand and mines struggle to keep up.
Prices rose as much as 1.3% to $10,008 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange. Prices hit a record $10,190 in February 2011.
Copper has been among the best performers in a month in which metals ranging from aluminium to iron ore have surged to the highest in years. The rally is being fuelled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the virus pandemic. A push towards cleaner energy sources is also seen boosting consumption of copper, used in everything from electric vehicles to solar power systems, further straining supplies.
“This is a remarkable run for copper in terms of magnitude and consistency,” said Tai Wong, head of metals derivatives trading at BMO Capital Markets. “The all-time high at $10,190 is just around corner and now practically a foregone conclusion.”
Investors have piled into copper, with aggregate open interest in Shanghai Futures Exchange copper contracts at the highest in more than a year and hedge fund managers boosting bullish Comex copper bets in the week ended April 20.
With copper demand set to soar once more, there are mounting concerns that producers will struggle to plug the gap as they battle a host of technical and regulatory pressures.
In top producer Chile, a group of port workers this week began protests against the government’s pandemic relief policies, threatening near-term supplies. In the longer term, producers worry that plans to boost mining royalties could stifle investment and make the country less competitive.
Prices have doubled from lows in March, and, with a surge across raw materials from oil to agriculture. That is spurring debate about whether the boom may herald a so-called commodities supercycle. It has also helped push mining shares to multiyear highs.
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