Copper theft sank to its lowest level since 2009 in January, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said on Monday.
Sacci’s Copper Theft Barometer was R11.1 million in January this year compared to R12.4 million in December, Sacci said in a statement.
“This is the lowest level of the barometer since April 2009 and is a strong indication that the downward momentum seen in 2012 should continue into 2013.
“While there is a strong relationship between the incidence level of copper theft and the international copper price, this is a cyclical relationship that can be influenced by structural changes within the domestic environment,” Sacci said.
It said improved policing was one of the structural changes that had the potential to reduce the level of copper theft over time, regardless of the price trend.
The copper theft volume indicator recorded 156 metric tons in January from 179 tons in December and 180 tons in November.
“The progress already made against copper theft in 2012 by way of improved police co-operation with social partners, as well as the groundbreaking institutional work done with the Second-hand Goods Act, should spill over into 2013. The outlook is therefore very positive,” said Sacci.
The spot price for copper increased to a monthly average of US8062 per metric ton in February from US8052 in January, and US7427 in December last year.
The average price for 2012 was US7958.
“This implies that the variation from the mean to both directions was slightly more than US500, or six percent of the average,” said Sacci.
“The implication is that the international price of copper has remained fairly stable despite broad macro-economic trends that affected the demand for industrial inputs.”
The possible consolidation of sovereign debt problems in developed economies should place upward pressure on the copper price this year, said Sacci.