yuangreenbackThe red metal ended mostly flat on Thursday, following a mixed bag of U.S. economic data. Traders weighted their hopes for a firmer demand from China against the possibility of an announcement next week from the Federal Reserve relating to the stimulus plan. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, the most actively traded contract on the New York Mercantile exchange was copper for March deliver, which was down $0.35 to $3.2915 per pound. Across the pond, the publication reported that stockpiles in warehouses are down more than 40 percent since June and the high level of metal still scheduled for delivery implies that the market can expect more drawdowns in the future, which in turn should support metal prices. Copper for three months on the London Metal Exchange was up slightly to $7,241.50.

Copper production in China climbed to a record in November with high treatment and refining fees encouraging smelters to process more material. Bloomberg reported that refined-red metal output was up 28 percent to 654,000. The figure represents a 2.7 increase from the previous record.

Company news

Diversified Russian base metals company Intergeo MMC, part of the ONEXIM Group which is controlled by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, is acquiring Vancouver-based Mercator Minerals (TSX:ML). With the acquisition, Intergeo MMC give life to a new copper-focused company to be called Intergeo Mining. Intergeo Mining will benefit from a strong growth profile and strong financial backing.

ONEXIM told Bloomberg that Intergeo stands to benefit from “access to public capital markets to develop its attractive projects,” including bringing the Ak-Sug copper project into production. With the combined assets of Intergeo and Mercato, the result will include an attractive portfolio of producing properties, as well as short and medium term development projects. According to the press release, Mercator will receive a substantial cash injection into its Mineral Park Mine in an aim to stabilize and improve its operations. The company’s El Pilar project is also an attractive near-term development asset for Intergeo and it is able to be advanced in a financially responsible manner and is expected to provide an attractive return on investment at current commodity prices Intergeo MMC shareholders will hold 85 percent of the new company and Mercator investors will retain about 15 percent.

Candente Copper Corp.’s (TSX:DNT, LMA:DNT, OTCPINK:CCOXF) wholly owned-subsidiary, Cobriza Metals Peru has entered into an option agreement with for the Arikepay copper-gold porphyry project, located in southern Peru.

“We are very pleased to have a partner with the technical experience and strong financials of Zahena to advance exploration at Arikepay,” Mike Thicke, P.Geo., Candente’s Vice President of Exploration, said in the company statement. According to Thicke, “[p]artnering with Zahena to advance the Arikepay project is the first step in a new strategy of Candente to increase shareholder value by expanding our exposure to various projects.”

According to the press release, Zahena can earn a 75% interest in Arikepay by making USD$5 million  in exploration expenditures and USD$4M in payments to Cobriza Metals Peru within 4 years. A USD$50,000 payment on signing the Agreement and 3,000m of drilling within 12 months of receiving all drilling permits are firm commitments.

This week, Pacific Booker Minerals (TSXV:BKM,NYSEMKT:PBM) announced that the British Columbia Supreme Court released its ruling regarding the company’s challenge of the government’s decision to reject PBM’s proposal for the Morrison copper-gold mine.

According to the news release Justice Affleck ruled that: “The petitioner is entitled to a declaration that the executive director’s referral of the application for a certificate to the ministers and the ministers’ decision refusing to issue the certificate failed to comport with the requirements of procedural fairness. There will be an order in the nature of certiorari quashing and setting aside the ministers’ decision and an order remitting the petitioner’s application for a certificate to the ministers for reconsideration. The petitioner is entitled to costs.”

This week First Quantum Minerals has made a decision on three copper target areas within Zincore Metals (TSX:ZNC) Accha Zinc Oxide District that it will like to follow through with further exploration. According to Zincore CEO Jorge Benavides, in addition to the Dolores project –which First Quantum recently moved into the second stage of its earn-in– the company now has four high-priority copper porphyry targets with work programs to be funded by First Quantum. “This represents tremendous value to our Company and shareholders, especially when considering First Quantum’s industry-acknowledged technical excellence and area-specific expertise gained from work at their nearby Haquira project,” Benavides said in a statement.

Antofagasta Minerals, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Antofagasta plc, recently completed its earned in 51 percent of Avrupa Minerals‘ (TSXV:AVU) Alvalade copper project in Portugal. In order to have achieved this, Antofagasta needed to spend US$4,300,000 per the option agreement between the two companies dated December 22, 2011. Antofagasta can acquire an additional 24 percent interest for a total of 75 percent interest in the Alavalade copper project by preparing, funding, and delivering a feasibility study before December 1, 2018.