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Welcome to Lord Copper

Opinions about lots of things - mostly related to the worlds' metal markets

HKEx Tucks in to the Main Course

18 September 2019

So was the LME just the appetiser? HKEx seems to be coming back now for the main course, with its unsolicited bid for the London Stock Exchange. Will they end up smiling and replete at the high table, or rebuffed like Oliver Twist asking for more?

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Who'd be a Miner?

11 September 2019

Mining is a strange occupation, bred of an almost unreal optimism that believes that digging a hole will provide a route to riches. As one who has only ever been involved in the commercialisation of the product, in one way or another, and who signally lacks the technical background and knowledge to understand the why - is it there? - and the how - do you get it out? - I’m always struck by this feeling of unreality when I am taken down and shown an underground mine. My first thought, every time, is why on earth would I choose to go down into a hole in the ground, where millions of tonnes of rock, earth, whatever, is pressing down on the little tunnels the humans scurry around in, pausing only - it sometimes seems - to set off explosions which serve to disrupt further the natural order of the rocks?

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The Shortest History of Germany

28 August 2019

I realise we have been a bit lax this year in suggesting books that might appeal for summer holiday reading; we’re pretty much at the end of the main summer holiday period, even if the weather in southern England is trying hard to make us feel comfortably Mediterranean. But here’s one (recommended to me originally by John Wolff) which is well worth a read.

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Hicks

21 August 2019

For anybody who was involved in the tungsten ore market in the 1960’s, it will come as no surprise that this article is titled with the single word Hicks. For during those years Simon Hicks’ speculative, swashbuckling and at times apparently irresponsible trading was the main topic of conversation in the market and a source of frustration and irritation to the likes of the Philipp Brothers affiliate Derby and Co, itself a major player in the market on a more conventional pattern.

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A Chilean Diary

14 August 2019

In September this year, after 110 years of open cast mining, Chuquicamata, one of the world’s most famous copper mines, goes underground. New shafts from the present floor have been cut diagonally into the seam. Richer at Cu 0.7% (than the present Cu 0.2%-0.5%) the mine will instantly become more efficient. The old ore trucks, as large as buildings, 340mt empty and 570mt full, creeping up at a 12% gradient from the present floor, will soon rumble off to work elsewhere.

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Oversight of Metal Stocks - to be extended?

25 July 2019

Over the course of my career, I learned that often the best trading opportunities occur around that fuzzy, uncertain line where the LME forward (futures) market and the physical metal market meet. I know it would be easier for the regulatory authorities if that line were a clear, unambiguous frontier, but it’s simply not so. That’s a large part of the reason why warehousing - which is right in that fuzzy zone - has consistently been a subject that causes difficulties in the market. Difficulties? - well, depending on one’s point of view: for some, a clear indication that more regulation is needed, for others, another trading opportunity.

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