China to auction copper, aluminium and zinc from state metal reserves in bid to curb soaring commodity prices
- The National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration will sell 100,000 tonnes of metal stock next month
- Copper and zinc sales will take place on an online platform belonging to state-owned miner and metals trader China Minmetals Corp
China’s state reserves administration on Tuesday said it would publicly auction a total of 100,000 tonnes of non-ferrous metals early next month in the first round of a rare and highly anticipated release of its stockpiles.
The National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration said in three separate notices it would auction 20,000 tonnes of copper, 30,000 tonnes of zinc and 50,000 tonnes of aluminium on July 5 and July 6.
The amount of zinc being sold is equivalent to 5.7 per cent of monthly production in China, the world’s biggest metals consumer, based on official data for May. For copper, the auctioned volume is 2.3 per cent of May’s refined output and for aluminium it is 1.5 per cent.
Benchmark copper prices hit a record of almost US$10,750 a tonne last month, fuelled by a post-pandemic economic recovery, ample global liquidity and pockets of speculative buying, but have since eased to around US$9,260.
“We expect more sales from reserves combined with slower underlying demand and seasonal weakness to put a lid on prices in the very near term, but we then expect a rally to new highs over the next 3+ months,” Jefferies analyst Christopher LaFemina said in a note.
“We would be surprised if the [administration] were to sell more than 10 per cent … of its copper reserves,” he added, estimating these to total 1.5 million to 2 million tonnes.
The copper and zinc sales will take place on an online platform belonging to state-owned miner and metals trader China Minmetals, while the aluminium auction will be on a site operated by another state-run firm, Norinco, the notices show.
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The bidding hours will be from 8am to 12pm and 1pm to 6pm. It was not immediately clear what the starting price in each auction would be.
Companies wishing to bid must be involved in processing and manufacturing and should register on the e-bidding platforms by 4pm on June 27, the notices said.
Breakdowns of the batches of copper, zinc and aluminium to be sold showed all of the metal had entered storage after 2008 and was currently located in warehouses across China.
Bidders are able to inspect the quality of the metal in warehouses on June 30 and July 1 provided they have put down a deposit and arranged a viewing.