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LME copper at 8-week high after Chile quake sparks supply concerns

Worker in copper refinery
Rodrigo Garrido | Reuters

London copper price hit their highest in nearly two months on Thursday after a powerful earthquake off the coast of Chile sparked concerns about supply disruptions in the world's biggest copper producer.

The magnitude 8.3 earthquake shook buildings in the capital Santiago and generated a tsunami warning for Chile and Peru. Peru this year is on track to become the world's second-biggest copper miner.

Benchmark London Metal Exchange copper climbed 1.1 percent to $5,440.50 a tonne, the loftiest since July 22.


Chile's state copper miner Codelco said workers at its Ventanas operations, which house a smelter and refinery, had been evacuated.

"We have no problems in any divisions. There is no damage to infrastructure or personnel," Codelco said in a message on Twitter.

Less than an hour after the initial earthquake, three aftershocks all greater than magnitudes 6.1 struck the region, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

Waves triggered by a strong earthquake had begun hitting the country's coastline, emergency service said, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

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Copper prices have struggled near six-year lows in 2015, due to an expected global market surplus this year and next, and slowing demand from top consumer China.

The global copper market is seen in a small surplus of nearly 200,000 tonnes this year, according to a median of analysts polled by Reuters in July.

But global miners such as Glencore this month have announced small cutbacks as some operations become uneconomic, tightening the supply pipeline and causing some analysts to turn cautiously optimistic on the metal.