MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Global copper supply could be hit by worsening storms in South America due to an El Nino weather pattern, potentially disrupting output later this year in the world’s top two copper mining countries, European copper smelter Aurubis said.
“Strong rainfall, flooding and earthquakes are predicted for South America. If this occurs, the copper industry in Chile and Peru will be affected by impacts on production,” Aurubis said in a note.
Weather bureaus are confirming the return of an El Nino weather pattern this year, with agencies in the United States, Japan and Australia increasing their forecasts for the strength and duration of the event.
El Nino, a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific, can lead to scorching weather across Asia and east Africa but heavy rains and floods in South America.
Heavy rain and winds forced the precautionary closure of some mines in Chile earlier this month, while floods in late March cut Chile’s copper production that month and in April.
Chile is expected to produce 4.01 million tonnes of copper in concentrate this year, while Peru is forecast to produce 1.7 million tonnes, accounting for 45 percent of global mine supply.
Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin