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Pan Pacific, Freeport Agree on 31% Increase for 2014 Copper Fees

Pan Pacific Copper Co., Japan’s largest smelter of the metal, said it agreed with Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. to a 31 percent gain in fees to turn ore to refined metal for next year.

The companies settled on $92 a metric ton to treat concentrate and 9.2 cents a pound to refine the metal, Atsushige Higashimori, a spokesman at the Tokyo-based firm, said by phone today. The rates this year were $70 a ton and 7 cents a pound, according to Higashimori. A call to Eric Kinneberg, a spokesman for Phoenix-based Freeport, wasn’t answered outside of business hours.

The agreement follows Freeport’s similar deal last week with Jiangxi Copper Co., China’s biggest producer, that was reached at the same level. Higher fees would help boost earnings at smelters and add support to copper futures that slumped 12 percent this year in London.

“The levels that the top smelters in China and Japan have set for next year are going to be a benchmark for others,” said Shinya Yamada, an analyst at Credit Suisse Securities Japan Ltd. “The increase will help improve earnings at Japanese smelters,” which suffer from rising power costs.

Mining companies including Melbourne-based BHP Billiton Ltd. and Freeport are negotiating with smelters around the world to set fees for 2014. The rates, which are deducted from the price paid by smelters to miners for the raw material, usually rise when mine supplies increase.

The world supply of mined copper will expand at least 4 percent annually in from 2012 to 2016, Standard Bank Plc said in a report in October, compared with less than 1 percent in four of the six years before 2012.

Masashi Takahashi, a spokesman at Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., the nation’s second-biggest, was not immediately available for a comment. Takuya Kitamura, a spokesman at Mitsubishi Materials Corp., declined to comment on their own talks.

Copper for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange fell 0.2 percent to $6,985 a ton by 4:58 p.m. in Tokyo.

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