As the price of copper rises businesses have more than just increased costs to worry about. Copper theft is also on the rise.


As copper went through $10,122 a tonne last week thieves have been targeting the rail companies copper power lines and the power company E.On has started hiring ex-Ghurka soldiers to guard electricity power substations. Even the sanctity of the church has not protected the Church of England from such theft.

The rise in price has been put down mainly to the Chinese economic boom, which has seen an increase in consumption of 38%. It now uses about one third of the world's demand. Europe and North America use some 5.6 million tonnes a year, Asian demand is expected to top 11 million tonnes this year. As a result the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) expect a production shortfall of 0.4 million tonnes despite miners increasing their production.

There have been other factors though. Over 2009 copper production capacity dropped from 19.5 million tonnes to 16.1 million tonnes due to industry cutbacks that are still having an effect today. Then there is the explosion at the Chilean port of panache in December that disrupted the export of copper from the world's fifth largest supplier of the metal.

Morningstar's Daniel Rohr believes there may be a copper bubble forming with prices held high for a couple of years, but as production starts to overtake demand then prices should start falling by 1015.

Until then many companies will be counting the costs of replacing copper and the extra security measures needed to protect it.

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