China, which accounts for roughly 40 percent of the globe's consumption of the base metal, is poised to release economic data about trade and growth next week, which is sure to capture rapt attention from investors, traders and analysts.
The reddish metal had been benefiting from worldwide central bank easing policies that aim to spur the national economies they support amid the recovery from the Great Recession.
"There's quite a debate out there right now about the extent of the economic slowdown in China and what real impact this is having on metals demand," metals strategist Stephen Briggs with BNP Paribas in London told the news source.
At 8:26 a.m. on Friday, copper futures fell 0.89 percent, a 0.0335 cent loss to $3.718 per pound.
The globe's largest producer of the reddish metal has laid ambitious plans for its legendary copper mine.
Chile to confront copper challenges
Chuquicamata, which is in operation 24 hours a day, is en route to being converted from an open-pit mine into the globe's largest underground mine, The Associated Press reports.
The mine that generated 443,000 tons of the reddish metal in 2011 is forecast to be unprofitable in seven years. For that reason, Codelco – the national mining company owned by Chile – is taking action to preserve the mine's integrity and keep it generating high levels of the base metal.
A $3.8 billion project has begun at Chuquicamata with the more than 620-miles-worth of tunnels stretching beneath the site as part of an effort to prolong the mine's high levels of generation.
The project will establish the South American nation on "the vanguard of global mining," underground project general manager Alvaro Aliaga told the news source.
"This resembles some of the projects in Argentina and Brazil in terms of its magnitude and the challenge they represent for engineering because they're works of a tremendous scope and with a huge impact on the national economy," the general manager told the news source.
Chuquicamata spurred the political activity of Ernesto "Che" Guevara in the 1950s, it prompted Chile President Salvador Allende to implement nationalization changes for the copper industry in 1971 and the South American country gleaned many years of strong returns from its production.
But investors, analysts and traders presently hold a less-than-bright outlook for the industrial metal's prospects.
Traders of the reddish metal are raising their eyebrows about slowing demand for copper, Bloomberg reports. They presently are less optimistic now than at any point in the past 16 weeks.
Price of copper futures will lose value next week, according to 14 analysts polled by the news source. Seven analysts said the reddish metal will increase and 10 remained neutral.
Inventories of the reddish metal will dwarf demand for it by 458,000 metric tons next year, the International Copper Study Group said. The organization that holds the membership of 23 countries said next year's oversupply marks the first since 2008 and the largest in more than 10 years.
China, host of the globe's second-largest economy, will prompt a "crash" in demand of the reddish metal in 2014 due to its wobbly housing market, states a report authored by Goldman Sachs earlier this week.
Manufacturing in the globe's largest user of the industrial metal shrank last month, marking a second consecutive month of contraction.
"What it needs from here for another rally is to see quantitative easing translate into demand for copper and I don't think that demand will come through until we see restocking in China in February or March," analyst Angus Staines with UBS AG in London told the news source. "As long as China's data is a bit disappointing, then that’s bad for copper."
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