Copper concentrate sails smoothly amid Chilean unrest
Chile has been facing severe unrest for more than a month now, with a state of emergency declared in some parts of the country and curfew imposed in many regions. Although the country is slowly returning to normalcy after the National Congress of Chile agreed to reform the constitution, businesses have been badly affected across Chile.
Chile is the largest exporter of copper concentrate, with most of its exports going to Asia. The trade employs smaller dry bulk vessels, mainly Supramaxes, on the long-haul route. The ongoing unrest in the country did not have much of an impact on the copper exports. Apart from some minor and short strikes in front of some ports, copper exports have largely been smooth, which has come as a relief for copper traders.
In the first few days of the unrest, port workers throughout Chile did hold strikes to show their solidarity with the protesters in the country, but the protests did not last long. Meanwhile, some ports, such as Puerto Angamos, which is a major copper concentrate export port in northern Chile, did not face any protest by workers. However, some ports, such as Antofagasta, saw some initial unrest in the form of a blockade of the road leading to its Los Pelambres mine, but the unrest has now faded.
Chile exported 1.17 million tonnes of copper concentrate in October 2019, which is only a minor decrease of 3% year on year. In 2018, copper concentrate exports from the country generated more than 100 billion tonne miles of demand and any sharp reduction in its trade would have hurt Supramax rates in the Pacific.