Ragnhild Kjetland is a documentary photographer and writer with 11 years experience as a financial news reporter for Bloomberg, Dow Jones International and AFX News in Frankfurt, London and Oslo. Ragnhild has covered the technology, banking, pharmaceutical and chemical industries, as well as the Norwegian economy and oil industry. She has also worked as a freelance reporter for Norwegian radio and print press in Japan, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Switzerland and Uzbekistan. Ragnhild writes about the copper and magnesium markets for the Investing News Network. She has a Master’s degree in international journalism from City University in London and most recently studied photography at the New York Film Academy. She currently resides in Haugesund, Norway.
The absence of stellar economic growth data out of China and gold’s largest single-day drop in decades together pushed copper to an 18-month low this week. The red metal traded dangerously close to bear market conditions.
Amid declining ore grades and rising mining costs, investors may want to look closely at regions with low geopolitical risk. After a couple of years of declining production, the United States is set to increase its copper output for a second year on the back of a slew of promising projects.
Copper was put through the wringer this week, pushed to a seven-month low as Cyprus considered — and rejected — a bank bailout that could have triggered a run on banks across Europe. At the end of the week, modest growth in China’s manufacturing sector and robust home sales in the US brought some relief.
In the last couple of years, the combination of declining ore grades, labor disruptions and delayed or cancelled mine expansions has led to increased copper scrap consumption. Now, amid tightening supply, the price gap between scrap and refined copper is closing.
Codelco is the latest mining company poised to start operations in Ecuador. But even as President Rafael Correa prepares a more investment-friendly mining law, local communities and environmentalists are promising to put up a fight.
Canada was the top destination for exploration funds last year. Nevertheless, the repercussions of low investments in the 1990s and early 2000s are being felt in a limited number of major projects slated to come into production in the next few years. British Columbia, where a number of near-term copper projects are coming online, is one of the bright spots.