February 8, 2017 / 2:51 AM / 3 years ago

METALS-London copper boils as world's top two mines set to start output cuts

* StanChar sees 3,600 T per day lost on copper strike

* Strike at Escondida to start from Thursday (Adds comment, details, updates prices)

By Melanie Burton

MELBOURNE, Feb 8 (Reuters) - London copper climbed on Wednesday towards two month peaks, boosted by supply concerns after the world’s top two mines said they planned to cut output due to strikes and permit delays.

BHP Billiton said it would halt output at Escondida, the world’s biggest copper mine, during a strike set to begin on Thursday, while Freeport-McMoRan Inc has warned it will scale back activities at its Indonesian copper mine, amid a worker strike and other issues.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange climbed 2 percent to $5,909 a tonne by 0755 GMT, erasing 0.9 percent losses from the previous session. Prices are advancing towards a two-month top of $6,007 a tonne reached on Feb. 1.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper rose 1.8 percent to 47,660 yuan ($6,923) a tonne, while Comex copper also rallied.

“Our view is that the copper market will continue to tighten over the course of this year and supply disruptions are part of that view,” said Daniel Morgan at UBS in Sydney. “We are looking for $3 a pound ($6,614 a tonne) for this year.”

BHP Billiton said on Tuesday it plans to halt production at its Chile-based Escondida copper mine after unionized workers initiate a strike scheduled to begin on Thursday.

The workers are set to strike after contract talks mediated by the Chilean government failed to reach a deal, the main union told Reuters.

A strike at Escondida would cut 3,400 tonnes of output each day of stoppage, Standard Chartered estimated.

Recent strikes in Chile have only lasted days rather than weeks, but the bank warned a length strike for 25 days “would equate to 85,000 tonnes of lost output”, more than the expected global surplus of 80,000 tonnes according to a poll of 14 analysts by Reuters from Jan. 27.

Freeport-McMoran, majority owner of Indonesia’s huge Grasberg gold and copper mine, earler said it would cut production in Indonesia if it did not get a new export permit by mid-February.

“We estimate this loss at just under 2,000 tonnes per day based on company production guidance of 680,000 tonnes for 2017,” Standard Chartered added.

In other metals, LME zinc and LME nickel rallied alongside an updraft in ferrous metals, with Dalian iron ore up more than 4 percent on prospects of stronger demand.

ShFE zinc rallied 1.5 percent, bringing up sister metal ShFE lead by 2.4 percent.

PRICES

Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminium

Most active ShFE aluminium

Three month LME zinc

Most active ShFE zinc

Three month LME lead

Most active ShFE lead

Three month LME nickel

Most active ShFE nickel

Three month LME tin

Most active ShFE tin

$1 = 6.8821 Chinese yuan renminbi $1 = 6.8841 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin and Michael Perry

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