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Copper: China spot TC/RCs fall to $84-$92/mt; 2018 term talks deadlocked -- sources

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Copper: China spot TC/RCs fall to $84-$92/mt; 2018 term talks deadlocked -- sources

Hong Kong — Spot treatment and refining charges for Chinese smelters were at$84-$92/mt and 8.4-9.2 cents/lb last week, edging down from $85-$93/mt and8.5-9.3 cents/lb the previous week, with thin imported concentrate trade amidannual term TC/RC talks, industry sources in China said Tuesday.

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Both Tongling Nonferrous Metals and Jiangxi Copper said in their Decembercopper sector reports that the Chinese smelting sector and overseas minescould not finalize term TC/RCs for 2018 due to diverse views on next year'smarket fundamentals.

Jiangxi Copper said annual term TC/RCs in past years had been agreedaround year-end, but the two sides have reached a stalemate this year becausetheir views on supply and demand of mined copper next year are divergent. KeyChinese smelters have ample stocks of concentrate, so are not doing muchbuying, it said.

Tongling Nonferrous said that due to the lack of agreement, term TC/RCtalks for next year are expected to continue into early 2018.

Base metals and commodities platform owner China Construction Bank in itsDecember copper report said the ongoing talks have led to thin buying of spotimported copper by China. Heightened concerns about mined copper supply risks,with strikes at mines in Chile and Peru, as well as increased copper priceshave also hindered the talks, it said.

TC/RCs, fees paid to smelters by mines to convert concentrate intorefined copper, are a key source of revenue for smelters.

China imported 1.37 million mt of copper ores and concentrates inOctober, down 100,000 mt month on month, but up 0.74% year on year. OverJanuary-October, ore and concentrate imports rose 2.9% year on year to 13.93million mt, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

China's mined copper demand is forecast to be 6.15 million in 2018, up 6%from an estimated 5.8 million mt this year, estimates by state-run metalsconsultancy Beijing Antaike showed.

China's net mined copper imports (25% metal contained in ores) areforecast to be 4.8 million mt next year, up 6.7% from an estimated 4.5 millionmt this year, with domestic mined copper output seen at 1.72 million mt nextyear, up 4.2% from an estimated 1.65 million mt this year, the agency said.

--Joshua Leung,

--Edited by Jonathan Fox,