Copper Output From Sumitomo Metal Smelter May Be Reduced on Maintenance

Copper output by Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Japan’s second-biggest smelter of the metal, may decline in the next fiscal year as it plans to shut its smelter for about two months for maintenance.

“It’s scheduled for maintenance during September to November and the actual date will be set later,” Mikinobu Ogata, executive officer in the nonferrous division, said in an interview today. There may be an impact on production in the year starting from April 1, he said, without elaborating.

Copper, used in wires and pipes, reached a record $9,754 a metric ton on Jan. 4 after gaining 30 percent in 2009 as a China-led recovery boosted demand. Japanese copper smelters have extended talks to this month with mining companies such as BHP Billiton Ltd. after failing to reach an agreement in December on treatment and refining charges for this year.

The Toyo smelter, located in Ehime prefecture, western Japan, has annual production capacity of 450,000 tons of refined copper. Sumitomo Metal Mining has said expects to produce 404,000 tons in the year ending March 31, 10 percent less than its output capacity.

Pan Pacific Copper Co., Japan’s biggest producer of the refined metal, said Sept. 15 that it will expand output cuts amid short supply of ore and lower processing fees. The smelter will reduce production by about 13 percent of capacity in the six months from Oct. 1, from the previous 7 percent, it said. The company has a capacity of 620,000 tons a year.

The International Copper Study Group is expecting a 435,000-ton global deficit in the refined metal this year, the first shortage since 2007.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jae Hur in Tokyo at; Ichiro Suzuki in Tokyo at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at

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