Copper theft in South Africa increased in January, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said on Tuesday.
The increase coincided with an upturn in the international copper price.
Sacci spokeswoman Nonie Makhanya said the Copper Theft Barometer registered a level of R21.9 million in January, up 4.6 percent, from R20.9m, the previous month.
The January figure was also higher than the 2011 average of R17.8 million.
“This may point to an increasing trend in copper theft,” Makhanya said.
The recent increase in the internationally quoted price for copper was a potential driving force for copper theft, she said.
The spot price of copper increased more than 10 percent in the first two months of the year, but still showed negative annual growth in February (-14.8 percent).
In the second half of last year, the price contracted sharply because of uncertainty in the global economy.
This month the price climbed by R2776 to R63,506 per metric ton.
The decline in the copper price last year meant that South Africa’s annual copper exports dropped by 4.8 percent in November 2011.
“The uptick in copper prices over the past two months would suggest that the value of South African copper exports could increase if present volumes remain consistent,” Makhanya said.