Copper Drops From 3-Week High as Chilean Mines Return to Normal

Copper fell for the first time in three days as mines in Chile, the world’s biggest producer, were returning to normal operations after the government ordered an evacuation following an earthquake and tsunami.

The contract for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange retreated as much as 1 percent to $6,610 a metric ton and was at $6,643.75 at 4:01 p.m. in Tokyo. The metal touched $6,734 yesterday, the highest intraday level since March 10. The price is down 9.7 percent this year.

Coloso port in Chile has resumed normal operations, BHP Billiton Ltd. spokeswoman Eleanor Nichols said today. The port in Antofagasta city handles output from Escondida, the world’s biggest copper mine. Codelco yesterday said it restarted its Ventanas smelter. Operations at the Collahuasi mine will return to normal with no damage or injuries from the quake, operating company Cia Minera Dona Ines de Collahuasi said yesterday.

“There’s been no report of any significant damage at mine and port operations in Chile’s earthquake-hit area,” said Kazuhiko Saito, a Tokyo-based analyst at commodities broker Fujitomi Co. The market was also shrugging off China’s announcement for measures to support growth yesterday, he said.

China’s government will sell 150 billion yuan ($24 billion) of bonds this year to fund railway building in less-developed regions, and will extend a preferential tax policy to more small companies, according to a statement issued yesterday from the State Council after a meeting led by Premier Li Keqiang. The country is the biggest user of copper.

The Comex contract for delivery in May slid 0.4 percent to $3.034 a pound in New York. In Shanghai, futures for delivery in June fell 0.7 percent to close at 46,330 yuan ($7,464) a ton.

Aluminum in London added 0.2 percent after touching $1,838.50 earlier, the highest level since Dec. 30. The metal climbed for a sixth day, the longest winning streak since September 2012.

On the LME, nickel, tin and zinc also rose, while lead was little changed.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.