The Copper Theft Barometer increased to R11.4 million in January 2014 from R10.5 million in December 2013. This is the second consecutive monthly increase and is placed higher than the 2013 monthly average of R10.5 million. The persistence of copper theft activity despite improved policing supports the need for continued vigilance. The Copper Theft Volume Indicator increased to 143 metric tons in January 2014 from 140 in December 2013.
The international spot price of copper decreased to a monthly average to date of $7 159 per metric ton in February from $7 292 in January 2014. Commodity prices are known to post strong growth spurts following the festive season, so the decrease in February is most likely a price correction.
South African exports of waste copper products increased to $15.5 million in December from $14.3 million in November. This remains a very low export figure, as the 2013 monthly average was $38.6 million and the 2012 figure was $40.1 million. Clearly, the impact of the Export Restriction on Scrap Metal is being felt.
The outlook for reduction in copper theft levels for 2014 remains relatively optimistic, given the context of the barometer. Barring sudden prolonged price spikes in copper and a continuation of the good work done by the authorities, the outlook is that copper theft will become less and less prevalent as organised copper theft syndicates are put behind bars. The increase in January, although somewhat disheartening, should also spur South Africans to realize that copper theft remains a serious problem with a broad economic impact.
Pietman Roos (Policy Consultant) or Neren Rau (CEO) at 011 446 3800