Plummeting copper prices have left the world’s top miners reeling while facing across-the-board cuts as the ore sank to $2.40/lb this week, its lowest price in nearly six years. BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Glencore and Freeport McMoran Inc. are all taking hits; after dropping 14% in 2014, the red metal has now lost 12% of its value this year so far.
Diversification since the Q3 2009 slump, according to analysts, may no longer save copper from the same pressures dogging coal and iron ore amid a slowdown in China, copper’s biggest market by far. Anglo American, Brazil’s Vale S.A., Chile’s Antofagasta plc, Vedanta Resources are also impacted alongside smaller miners like Canada’s First Quantum Minerals Ltd. and Teck Resources Ltd.
The World Bank, meanwhile, has cut its growth forecast on the Chinese mainland to 7.1% from 7.5% where copper consumption stands at its lowest since 2010. Falling oil prices from increased production, analysts note, has caused a further run on mineral commodities; copper’s slide, they added will thwart further maneuvering by Glencore after a proposed merger with Rio Tinto last year.