Telkom recently revealed its statistics on cable theft, which painted a grave picture by showing that almost half of all line faults are due to incidents of theft and sabotage.
This raises the question: what makes the metal such a popular target for theft, and where does all our copper go?
Theo Hess, Telkom’s head of network field services, explained that they see the number of cable theft incidents closely following the curve of the price of copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME).
However, though the price of copper took a dive in August 2011, Hess said that they are still seeing an overall trend predicting an increase in copper theft.
Hess said that though South Africa isn’t a large producer of copper it is a huge exporter of copper. He went on to say that it usually leaves our shores from Cape Town and Durban and it goes to the East.
The monthly Copper Theft Barometer reports issued by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) also often links copper demand to countries in Asia such as China and Japan.
In its October 2011 report, SACCI said “the recent long term trend” favours a steady increase in the export of copper waste & scrap.