Glencore to resume Philippine copper operations by mid-year
MANILA (Reuters) - Glencore International (GLEN.L: Quote) will resume operations at the only copper refinery in the Philippines by June or July, six months after a fire halted its operations, a company official told Reuters on Tuesday.
Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corp (PASAR), majority owned by Glencore, shut in January after a fire at its site in the central Leyte province, destroying anti-pollution devices.
"Our people are now busy refurbishing the plant because we want it to be in top shape when we operate by middle of this year, in June or July," said J. Paul Tan, PASAR assistant vice president for industrial and community relations.
Tan could not give an estimate on lost revenue from the halt in copper processing and exports, saying only it was likely to be "significant". The company earned $1.8 billion in 2010 from copper exports.
The smelter processes 720,000 tons of copper concentrate a year, or 60,000 tons a month, and the refinery has an annual capacity of 215,000 tons of cathodes, Tan said.
Market sources said in February that Glencore had been caught short by the shutdown, and was buying material to deliver against its commitments from ports in Europe as well as New Orleans.
REFINED COPPER MARKET
But a resumption of output at PASAR would have little impact on the refined copper market balance because Chinese demand has not been as strong as expected due to Europe's economic slowdown hurting its export markets.
It would also not be enough to halt steadily climbing copper processing charges, paid by miners to smelters to refine concentrate into metal, Beijing-based copper analyst Grace Qu at consultancy CRU said. Continued...