Copper theft decreased in August from R19.7 million to R17 million, the Sacci copper theft barometer indicated on Wednesday.
This was the first monthly decrease since the recent spike of R34.7m in March, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said.
The copper theft volume indicator recorded a level of 273 tons in August, down from 315 tons in July.
Sacci CEO Neren Rau said the international spot price of copper increased to an estimated average of US8076 (about R66,077) a metric ton in September from the US7509 (about R61,438) average in August.
“This is the first significant turnaround in the general downward trend in the international price of copper that started in the second quarter of 2012,” he said in a statement.
He said the change could be attributed to a slightly more positive economic outlook, following negotiations for financial stability in the Eurozone.
Exports of copper waste for June were down by 10.8 percent on a monthly basis to US39.2m (about R320.7m) from US43.9m (about R359.1m) in July.
Rau said export statistics in general had a high volatility and therefore changes levelled quite rapidly relative to other economic data series, but the long-term relationship between the international price of copper and South African copper export volume remained.
“The increase in the international price of copper is concerning, since there is anecdotal evidence that the increasingly sophisticated copper theft syndicates respond to price changes in the metal,” he said.
“However, the authorities and the security industry are also becoming increasingly effective in fighting copper theft under the Second-hand Goods Act and more vigilant [SA Police Service] action.”