Despite a rise in COVID cases in Chile, the world’s largest copper producer is increasing production.
Codelco, which along with other Chilean companies mines a little more than one-quarter of the world’s copper supply, increased production in the first quarter of 2021, despite new restrictions in Chile following a spike in COVID cases. The company says it plans to produce about 1.7 million metric tons of copper this year.
New restrictions in Chile include a requirement to provide a negative COVID test before every shift, and truck drivers must also be tested regularly. Despite a rise in vaccinations across the country, a spike in cases over the past few week required strong new regulations. Even with the reassurances that production will continue, concern over supply during the next quarter has copper prices rising. Analysts are predicting a strong demand for copper this summer and potentially beyond that, especially if the Biden Administration is able to pass a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure program. Experts are also predicting a 2-3% increase in copper demand over the next five years.