Copper eased on Monday but remained firm at above $9,500 on concern over supply following social unrests in Kazakhstan, one of key suppliers to China.
Copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) retreated 0.13% to $9,634.50 per tonne.
“Unrest in Kazakhstan is threatening to disrupt one of China’s key source of copper. The government has responded forcefully on mass protests, which could impact supply,” said analysts at ANZ Research in a note on Monday.
The unrest in Kazakhstan which started last week in the western region of Mangystau following a phase out of subsidy on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), according to Eurasia.net. The policy had subsequently boosted the price of LPG in the region where up to 90% of the vehicles there run on LPG.
The unrest turned into a nationwide protest and spread quickly to other large cities. The Guardian reported 164 people were killed in the past week during the worst violence in Kazakhstan’s 30-year history. Kazakhstan’s Health Ministry said, as cited by The Guardian, that 103 of the deaths were in Almaty, the country’s largest city and the centre of the violence.
“Social unrest in Kazakhstan has offered some support to copper and zinc, although there haven’t been reports of any meaningful disruptions to supply,” said ING Group in its note on Monday.
China imported 765 kilotonnes (kt) of copper concentrates or 3.6% of total imports and 243kt of refined copper from Kazakhstan during the first 11 months of 2021, according to ING.
While China’s imports of zinc concentrate from Kazakhstan only accounted for 1.4% of its total imports, China sourced almost half of its refined zinc imports from Kazakhstan during the first 11 months or 195kt, ING added.
Aluminium and nickel are the gainers, rising 0.31% and 0.55% respectively.