SANTIAGO, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Copper prices will rebound in the coming months from a downturn in demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak in China, Chilean mining minister Baldo Prokurica said on Tuesday.
China reported its fewest new coronavirus infections since January on Tuesday and its lowest daily death toll for a week, but the World Health Organization said data suggesting the epidemic had slowed should still be viewed with caution.
China is the world’s top copper consumer, and Chile is the red metal’s top producer.
State miner Codelco, Canada’s Teck Resources Ltd, Chile’s Antofagasta Plc and BHP Group operate mines in Chile.
“Though its true the world economy is passing through a complex period...we don’t believe it will last very long,” Prokurica told reporters.
Copper prices fell on Tuesday as deliveries into exchange warehouses raised fears that demand curbed by the coronavirus outbreak in China could cause a supply glut.
The metal used in power and construction has lost 9% since its January peak but has recovered from the Feb. 3 low of $5,523 per tonne.
Prokurica said he expected the slowdown would last another month or two, bolstered by China’s efforts to curb the virus’ spread and impacts on business.
“We think this will have mean a significant improvement in the copper price,” Prokurica said. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)