Copper theft down in May

The amount of copper stolen in South Africa dropped from R27.5 million in April to R23 million last month, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said on Thursday.

Sacci introduced a new scale on which copper theft is measured — the copper theft volume indicator — last month, CEO Neren Rau said in a statement.

“This provides a volume estimate of copper stolen, that strips away the possible inflationary bias of high copper prices in a given month and provides an estimate in terms of tons of copper stolen.”

According to this indicator, 356 tons were stolen in May, almost 16 percent less than the previous month.

The international copper spot price fell to an average of US7413 (about R62,498) per metric ton in June, from US7904 (about R66,638) in May and US8251 (about R69,564) in March.

“This is the third consecutive monthly decrease in the metal price and the first drop below the US7500 psychological barrier since October 2011.”

This, taken with the fall in price of Brent crude oil, was an indication that concerns about a slowdown in global industrial activity was pulling the price of industrial commodities, such as copper, down, and was likely to do so until at least the end of the year.

Rau said the continuous decrease in the international price of copper was beginning to filter into lower export volumes of the metal. From available data it appeared copper waste exports in April had decreased by 28 percent on a monthly basis.

Sacci welcomed the police’s “Operation Thibela”, aimed at reducing theft through enforcement of the Second-hand Goods Act, and noted a downward trend in copper theft in the last two months.

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Copper theft down in May