Codelco disputes reports of copper shipment cuts to China

FILE PHOTO: El logo de Codelco en su sede en Santiago, Chile. Marzo, 2018. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/File Photo

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile state miner Codelco, the world’s top producer of copper, on Wednesday disputed reports it intended to slash shipments of the red metal to China next year amid worries over production.

“Codelco does not accept as correct the information suggesting a reduction in shipments to China,” the company said in a statement to Reuters, referring to reports by trade publication Fastmarkets and Bloomberg.

The reports, citing unnamed sources, said Codelco would slash copper shipments to China by between 10-50%, after the mining firm reduced its production forecast for this and next year.

Codelco declined to give further details or fully rule out plans to make shipment cuts, saying in a statement it “does not comment on its business strategy to the press.”

In its third quarter results in October, Codelco cut its annual production forecast amid lower ore grades, lower copper recovery levels and operational difficulties.

Codelco cut its copper production estimates for the year to between 1.465 million and 1.435 million tonnes, a drop compared to the 1.49 million to 1.51 million tonnes it had forecast in August.

In early November the company announced its Chuquicamata smelter would remain closed for at least 135 days due to maintenance.

Reporting by Fabián Andrés Cambero, edited by Natalia Ramos; Writing by Alexander Villegas; Editing by Chris Reese