Monthly Metal Review
- March 2018
- February 2018
- January 2018
- December 2017
- November 2017
- October 2017
- September 2017
- August 2017
- July 2017
- June 2017
- May 2017
- April 2017
- March 2017
Despite low commodity prices, BHP Billiton will expand its copper and oil exploration programme to prepare for after-slump growth. The miner is to ear-mark US$5 billion for capital projects. It said a relatively small US$1.5-billion investment in already-operating assets could boost group output by 10 percent. BHP said it could decide next year on $2.2-billion expansion at its Spence mine in Chile, which produced 175,600 tonnes of copper in 2015. Other miners, however, continue shedding assets.
Freeport-McMoRan agreed to sell its 80-percent stake in the high-grade Tenke Fungurume mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo to China Molydbenum (CMOC) for some US$2.65 billion. Freeport has been selling assets to deal with its US$20-billion debt. CMOC said the Tenke mine produced 204,000 copper tonnes in 2015, generating revenue of US$1.4 billion and EBITDA of US$513 million. Lundin Mining owns 24 percent of Tenke and has three months to use its right of first refusal to buy the in-play stake. The DRC’s state miner has the remainder.
Minutes from a late-April U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting suggested members were open to a June interest-rate rise. But most want signs of econom-ic growth and firming employment and inflation first.
The U.S. economy added 160,000 jobs in April, down from March’s 208,000 new-jobs figure. The jobless rate stayed at 5 percent, but average hourly pay rose by 2.5 percent. First-quarter economic growth slowed to an annual 0.5-percent pace. The middling jobs report could work against a Fed rate rise at its June 14 and 15 meeting.
The eurozone economy topped its pre-financial-crash size, growing by 0.6 percent in the first quarter. Growth doubled on-quarter, making the EU economy bigger than at the start of 2008. EU unem-ployment fell to 10.2 percent in March, but remains above its 2008 rate. Splash effects of a planned June 22 UK Brexit vote are unknown.
The European Commission again lowered its eurozone inflation forecasts for 2016 and 2017, blam-ing global weakness and low oil prices. It predicted inflation would rise just 0.2 percent this year, down from February’s 0.5 percent forecast and November’s 1-percent prediction.
China’s April industrial output rose by 6 per-cent on-year, down from 6.8-percent expansion in March. Fixed-asset investment jumped by 10.5 per-cent January to April, compared to a 10.7 percent first-quarter gain a year ago. Retail sales grew by 10.1 percent on-year, weaker than March’s 10.5-percent gain. China’s president linked slower growth to a lower-than-expected 7.6-percent on-year rise in mili-tary spending. But property sales soared 44 percent on-year and new housing starts jumped by 26 per-cent.