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Copper Mining
A copper high was $4.2605 on May 5, 2008 was down to $1.63 on December 1st. Like everything price moves of the companies specializing in copper mining are moving right in step with market as a whole. Have not come up with any reason to buy before you feel the turnaround has been reached.
Worldwide copper consumption has been growing at an annualized rate of approximately 3.1% since 1990. All the companies are working toward increasing production. They have the sites open and several come on line in 2010.
Copper is used primarily to create wire. Wire is used in the Housing Sector and Automobiles. Not the two sectors to give you confidence right now. Construction (both residential and commercial) accounts for over 1/3rd of copper's worldwide end-uses. On the other hand China is importing around twice as much as the US.
Molybdenum, gold, silver or niobium are often found in the same mine as the Copper, which explains why you see it listed as being mined by these companies.

The Companies:
FCX – which stands for Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. has a capitalization of 9.06B
In March 2007, FCX acquired former American rival Phelps-Dodge, greatly expanding its copper output and reserves and entering the molybdenum market. Long term debt went from 661 million to 7,180 million. Over a billion dollars is already invested in developing what are estimated to be the largest undeveloped copper and molybdenum reserves. Unfortunately, this site is located in the Congo. Not the most risk free place in the world. They are hoping for output to begin in 2010.

PUC - whose name is Southern Copper has a market capitalization of 12.28B
Through its wholly owned subsidiaries, Grupo Mexico [GMEXICOB.MX] currently owns approximately 75.1% of PCU's capital stock. Southern Copper's principal business is copper production. Additionally, PCU produces silver and molybdenum. The company recovers silver in the refining process or as an element of blister copper. PCU extracts molybdenum from copper concentrates as a byproduct. Peruvian operations consisting of Toquepala and Cuajone mines. Mexican open pit copper mines have been having strike problems for over a year.

SLT cap of 3.49B, Sterlite Industries is a Vedanta Group company majorly operating in mining operations for non-ferrous metals Had a plant breakdown on Nov 24, 2008.

MAD Madeco SA has cap of 322M - Stock price looks more sticky than the others

TGB -- Taseko Mines Limited has a cap of 109M. The company's main assets are the Gibraltar copper-molybdenum mine, the Prosperity gold-copper project, the Harmony gold prospect, and the Aley niobium project. (only in Gibraltra)

Of these PUC looks like it is in the best position to go with an upswing in demand without the risk of FCX. While copper is often temping because there are fewer players and sites. The possibility of increases in supply having an impact on price is possible. If you’re China and you start expanding, which is going to needed first Iron or Copper. Seems to me you would want iron ore first.
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