March 18, 2020 / 6:15 AM / 22 days ago

METALS-Copper sinks below $5,000 a tonne as virus panic sees metals give up gains

 (Adds detail on mine curbs, analyst comment; updates prices)
    By Tom Daly
    BEIJING, March 18 (Reuters) - London copper prices dived
below $5,000 a tonne for the first time since November 2016 on
Wednesday, as a base metals rally driven by mine closures in
Peru gave way to renewed fears about the hit to demand from the
    Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was
earlier on course to snap two days of steep losses as it rose up
to 0.9% before plunging suddenly and sharply around 0545 GMT. It
fell as much as 3.7% to $4,952 a tonne, the lowest since Nov. 4,
    Nickel, zinc, lead and tin all added more than 2% in early
trade but zinc also turned negative, hitting $1,847 a
tonne, its lowest since May 2016. Aluminium sank to
$1,631.50, its lowest since October 2016.
    Prices had earlier been supported by miners' move to shutter
and wind down operations in Peru after the South American
country declared a state of emergency and likely supply chain
disruptions in neighbouring Chile, the world's top copper
    "Peru and Chile account for 60% of China's total copper
concentrate imports," said Helen Lau, an analyst at Argonaut
Securities. Some of the South American mines also produce zinc.
    Chinese copper smelters are yet to resume full production
after virus-related disruptions in January and February, "but
from now on you can start to worry about ports, shortage of
labour, quarantine and lockdowns that could happen in South
America as well, Lau added.
    * FREEPORT: Freeport-McMoRan Inc said its Cerro
Verde copper mine in Peru has temporarily transitioned to care
and maintenance for 15 days.
    * CANADA: Vale SA is reducing activity and output
at its Voisey's Bay copper mine in Canada as a precaution to
protect nearby indigenous communities.
    * ZINC: Teck Resources said its 22.5%-owned
Antamina zinc mine in Peru will continue to operate with a
reduced workforce during the 15-day emergency period and any
temporary reduction in production would be recovered in line
with existing 2020 guidance. 
    * LME RING: The LME plans to suspend open-outcry trading
next week and shift all business to its electronic system for
the first time.
    * STIMULUS: The Trump administration said on Tuesday it was
pursuing a $1 trillion stimulus package to buttress the economy.

    * TIN: Indonesia's PT Timah <TINS.JK<, the world's
second-largest tin producer, said it was temporarily reducing
production and would delay exports as the virus hits demand.

                                     0602 GMT
 Three month LME copper                4980.5
 Three month LME                       1632.5
 Three month LME zinc                    1855
 Three month LME lead                    1620
 Three month LME                        11885
 Three month LME tin                    14250
($1 = 7.0110 Chinese yuan renminbi)

 (Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Anil D'Silva, Aditya Soni)
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