South America’s left turn is bullish copper, top miner says

Bloomberg News | July 22, 2021 | 11:03 am MarketsTop CompaniesLatin AmericaCopper

Freeport’s Adkerson sees copper scarcity trumping cooling effort

Freeport CEO Richard Adkerson (Image: Screenshot from Bloomberg TV Video)

A hard turn to the left in South American politics may come with a silver lining for mining companies in the form of higher prices, according to Freeport-McMoRan Inc. Chief Executive Officer Richard Adkerson.

Policy uncertainty in Peru and Chile, which account for about 40% of global copper production, is supportive of future prices as producers balk on pulling the trigger on investments, he told analysts on a call Thursday. The shifting political winds are part of the challenges that mining companies face in meeting growing demand as the world transitions away from fossil fuels.

Adkerson, a 74-year-old mining veteran, plans to work with the industry in Peru to engage with the incoming government of Pedro Castillo, who has vowed to take a bigger share of the mineral windfall to fight poverty. In Chile, Freeport is holding off on a major expansion as the country debates tax hikes, drafts a new constitution and heads into a presidential election at a time when voters are pushing to address lingering inequalities.

“We really don’t know what the outcome is, bottom line,” Adkerson said. “This is going to be supportive of future copper prices.”

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