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Copper Set for First Monthly Gain in Four on Mine Supply Concern

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May 31 (Bloomberg) -- Copper was poised for the first monthly gain in four amid concern that miners will refuse to resume work at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.’s Grasberg mine in Indonesia after an accident halted production.

The metal for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange advanced as much as 0.4 percent to $7,349.25 a metric ton and was little changed at $7,310.25 at 4:06 p.m. in Tokyo. The price has gained 3.5 percent this month. Futures for delivery in July on the Comex were little changed at $3.3105 per pound.

Officials at the Grasberg complex should be suspended until an investigation behind a tunnel collapse that killed 28 people has been completed, Virgo Solossa, head of the Mimika branch of the All Indonesian Workers Union in the Chemical, Energy and Mining Sectors, said in a telephone interview yesterday. The union will call on workers not to return to work today, he said.

“The latest Freeport news stoked concern over mine supply disruption, lending support to the market,” said Hwang Il Doo, a senior trader at Korea Exchange Bank Futures Co. in Seoul. Copper was also supported after Japan’s industrial output grew faster than estimated last month, he said.

Freeport is slowly resuming operations after work began again at the Grasberg open-pit and mill on May 28, the Phoenix-based company’s local unit said on May 29. The accident occurred on May 14. BHP Billiton Ltd.’s Escondida in Chile is the world’s largest copper mine, followed by Grasberg.

Stockpiles monitored by the LME fell for a fifth session to 611,125 tons. Inventories are poised for the first monthly decline since September.

The contract for September delivery closed up 0.6 percent at 52,720 yuan ($8,594) a ton on the Shanghai Futures Exchange. On the LME, nickel climbed, while aluminum and tin fell, and lead and was little changed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jae Hur in Tokyo at jhur1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brett Miller at bmiller30@bloomberg.net

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