Copper concentrate is a product made by processing/enriching copper ore, which usually has a relatively low metal content and is not suitable for direct metallurgical processing. Usually, copper content in concentrate varies from percentages in the teens to several tens of percent, which enables further processing in copper smelters and refineries. The cost of transporting products with a lower copper content (for example copper ore) basically eliminates them from trade in the global market (with certain exceptions), therefore it may be assumed that copper concentrate is the first product of processing copper ore that may be generally traded. As a result of metallurgical processes copper is produced as well as the by-products of processing (mainly precious metals, sulphuric acid, lead etc.).
The main participants of the concentrate markets are mines supplying the product on the market and smelters and refineries, for which the concentrates are materials for production. Trading companies also play a role on this international market, intermediating in the purchase/sale transactions and offering additional services expected by the parties.
Copper concentrates require processing into refined copper, which leads to incurring processing costs and the incomplete recovery of metals in individual production stages. Therefore, the transaction price should have a set of discounts as compared to quoted prices for refined copper. The benchmark of these discounts (for TC/RC) is determined during negotiations with the main producers of concentrates (Freeport McMoRan, Antofagasta) and their customers (mainly Chinese and Japanese smelters and refineries).