HAMBURG, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Germany’s Aurubis , Europe’s biggest copper producer, has agreed long-term copper treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) for 2012 of $63.50 a tonne and 6.35 cents a pound, up 12.4 percent on 2011 deals, sources close to the company said on Friday.
This means Aurubis has matched the higher TC/RCs for 2012 reached in early December by Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold .
TC/RCs are paid by miners to smelters to refine concentrate into metal and are a key part of the global copper industry’s income. Increases are being sought as smelters believe demand for metal and mining output will continue to rise in 2012.
There was still doubt in past days whether the Freeport level would be accepted as a benchmark for 2012.
Chinese copper smelters were still seeking to convince BHP Billiton , the majority owner of the world’s biggest copper mine, to agree to higher TC/RCs, traders said.
BHP, the biggest stakeholder in Chile’s Escondida mine, has informally told Chinese smelters it may pay TC/RCs ranging from around $50 a tonne and 5 cents a pound for the whole of 2012 to around $60 a tonne and 6 cents a pound for delivery in the January-March quarter.
But Aurubis has already reached 2012 deals with three customers at $63.50 a tonne and 6.35 cents a pound, sources close to the company said.
Aurubis traditionally seeks long-term TC/RC agreements rather than spot market deals.