* Six smelters to export total 150,000 T/month vs 50,000 T
* Smelters make loss of nearly $330/T on domestic sales
(Adds Jiangxi exec's quotes)
By Polly Yam
HONG KONG, March 14 China's large copper
smelters have drawn up a plan to jointly boost exports of
refined metal in the coming months by three times the contracted
volumes in an effort to cope with low domestic prices, a senior
executive of the top producer said.
Six large smelters, including Jiangxi Copper Company
Limited, Tongling Nonferrous Metals and
Jinchuan Group, have agreed to export a total of about 150,000
tonnes of refined copper per month, Wu Yuneng, vice president of
Jiangxi Copper, told Reuters by phone on Friday.
Higher shipments by the Chinese smelters will help them
diversify their client base at a time when demand for the metal
at home is slowing. These firms currently have contracted
exports of about 50,000 tonnes a month in 2014.
The last time Chinese smelters undertook joint exports of
refined copper was in May 2012, when, together with trading
houses, they shipped a record 102,375 tonnes. Joint exports help
the smelters secure better prices and higher volumes.
"Smelters talked today and have reached a consensus that we
will increase exports, from now," said Wu.
Of the planned exports, 100,000 tonnes were spot metal and
50,000 tonnes were for 2014 term shipments, he added.
Smelters typically import copper concentrate to make
refined metal on a price based on the value of metal on the
London Metal Exchange. They were making a loss of nearly 2,000
yuan ($330) per tonne currently if they sell the metal in the
domestic market, the Jiangxi Copper executive said.
LME copper has shed about 9 percent in the past
week on worries over Chinese demand and an expected surplus in
the global market, with short positions being escalated. But it
was still higher than Shanghai prices.
Many smelters have reduced selling of spot copper in the
domestic market this week, even though some consumers were
trying to buy more spot metal and shipments for forward months,
Some smelters were also considering cutting production due
to the losses, added Wu, without giving details.
The exports would continue as long as domestic prices are
weak, he added.
To meet domestic contracted commitments, Wu said the
smelters would buy spot copper in the domestic market and take
copper stocks from the Shanghai Futures Exchange.
($1 = 6.1361 Chinese Yuan)
(Editing by Himani Sarkar and Muralikumar Anantharaman)