Expect More U.S. Copper Theft as Scrap Prices Rise Because of Chile Earthquake
Chile’s mines are still struggling to get up and running this week, days after a massive earthquake disrupted commodity production in the world’s top copper supplier, as damage to the power grid hindered a return to normal operations. The price of copper initially jumped more than 5 percent when markets opened on Monday, after Saturday’s 8.8 magnitude quake, one of the largest on record, closed up to a fifth of copper mine capacity in Chile. The mines most affected were south of Santiago, near where the quake was centered off the coast of Chile. State-owned Codelco, the world’s No. 1 copper producer, reported Monday that its Andina mine was still shut.
More thefts? There are already several major U.S. thefts a week.
For example, just this week, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio filed an information charging three men with conspiracy to destroy railroad communication lines. The information alleges that the defendants would cut and steal copper wires along railroad lines in Indiana and Ohio, which wires provided power for the railroad signaling system. The information charges that between January 2006 and January 2008, on approximately 80 occasions, one or more of the defendants stole copper wire totaling 360,000 linear feet of copper wire from railroad right-of-ways, which wire they sold to scrap metal processors.