Copper Means Big Business For Port Panama City - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Copper Means Big Business For Port Panama City

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Port Panama City, which already handles about half of the copper imported into the United States, is poised to become an even bigger player on the international stage.

The facility has been approved as a delivery point for copper by the London Metal Exchange (LME), the world center for industrial metals trading and price-risk management.  "We are looking to have a positive impact and an increase in copper through this designation," said Alex King, operations manager for the Panama City Port Authority.

Copper is mined in Chile and Peru, refined into "cathodes" and loaded onto cargo ships for a journey up the west coast of South America and through the Panama Canal.  Eventually, it arrives in St. Andrew Bay and is unloaded at the dock in Panama City.  According to King, the local port handles about 30 tons of copper each month.

"A lot of it is staged here on port for a period of time and then goes to inland sites and is made into electric wire," King said.

King said Panama City and New Orleans equally share about 95% of all U.S. copper imports.  The LME designation is expected to give importers some options.  "It allows them to sell the copper or store it in an LME approved warehouse and sell the copper at the right time," King said.

Local businesses could reap the benefits, too.  "It could provide opportunities for local warehouse operators to apply to the LME to be a designated delivery point for copper and create opportunities for warehousing in the Bay County area," King said.

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