* Antofagasta agrees TC/RCs with smelters in Japan, China -sources
* China’s Jiangxi Copper, Tongling Nonferrous sign up -source
* Charges are same as those agreed by Freeport with China smelters
Dec 18 (Reuters) - Chilean miner Antofagasta Plc has agreed to supply copper concentrate to smelters in China and Japan at treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) of $59.50 per tonne and 5.95 cents per lb in 2021, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.
Chile’s state-owned Codelco, which is the world’s biggest producer of mined copper, will also offer customers supply at those rates for next year, according to two separate sources.
The charges, which are paid by miners to smelters to process copper ore into refined metal, are the same as those agreed by Freeport-McMoRan Inc and Chinese smelters on Monday in the first miner-smelter settlement of the mating season, cementing $59.50 per tonne as the TC benchmark for next year.
The annual benchmark is referenced in supply contracts worldwide, playing a significant role in determining the profitability of both miners and smelters.
It was as high as $107 a tonne in 2015 but has now fallen for six years in a row to its lowest since 2011 as smelting capacity in top copper consumer China expands and mine supply tightens, meaning smelters have to accept lower terms to ensure they have enough feedstock.
Antofagasta first settled with Japanese smelters this week and then with Chinese customers including Jiangxi Copper and Tongling Nonferrous’ Jinlong smelter, one of the sources said.
All the sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to media.
Antofagasta and Freeport did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Jiangxi Copper and Tongling Nonferrous did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside normal business hours. (Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Susan Fenton)