Rough seas and a shortage of containers have bogged down shipments of copper cathodes from Chile, the world’s largest producer of the red metal, and may continue to slow exports, according to a senior mining executive and local industry analysts.
In January, Chile’s top copper shipping port at Mejillones was largely shuttered as ocean swells hammered docking facilities, making it impossible to load ships. Exports of copper concentrate and cathodes, and inputs such as sulfuric acid have all been affected, the sources said.
A senior mining company executive familiar with the situation told Reuters that the seas had calmed and that concentrate shipments were back on track.
But the source and industry analysts said the container shortage was continuing to plague cathode shipments.
“Containers are still tight, and they are very expensive,” said Juan Carlos Guajardo, executive director of the consulting firm Plusmining.
The container situation has driven up freight costs in the market and put pressure on copper processing premiums in Asia.
In January, Codelco told Reuters the slowdown due to bad weather had lasted longer than in years past, but said it had successfully adjusted delivery plans to meet customer needs.
The Chilean miner did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the lingering cathode shipment issues.