* Six smelters to export total 150,000 T/month vs 50,000 T now
* Smelters make loss of nearly $330/T on domestic sales (Adds Jiangxi exec’s quotes)
By Polly Yam
HONG KONG, March 14 (Reuters) - 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, said Wu.
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)