Mine Prices Market, Coal, Iron Ore and Copper Mine Demand Slump and Trade Forecast Analyst

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Copper prices may average $1.55 a pound, a 9 percent decline from Macquarie’s November forecast of $1.70, and 55 percent lower than the average price in 2008, analysts led by London-based Jim Lennon said in an e-mailed report today. Iron ore contract prices may fall 30 percent for the year starting April 1, down from an estimate of a 20 percent decline, it said.

Macquarie Group Ltd. analysts slashed price forecasts for copper, aluminum, coal and iron ore as last year’s slump in commodities is expected to extend into the first half of 2009.

In 2008, the Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 raw materials plummeted 36 percent, the most since the gauge debuted five decades ago, as a recession in the U.S., Europe and Japan caused a collapse in demand. The fourth quarter of 2008 and the first three months of this year may be “the eye of the storm,” for global economic growth, Macquarie said.

“Since our last round of price-forecast changes in November, the economic and demand outlook has deteriorated further,” it said. “Data for the fourth quarter of last year show a collapse in demand for the base metals and steel.”

Aluminum prices may average 70 cents a pound, 22 percent lower than its previous forecast and 40 percent below last year’s average. Coking coal contract prices for the year starting April 1 may drop 63 percent to $110 a metric ton, a 21 percent decline from its November forecast, Macquarie said.

Macquarie also cut its forecast for 2009 thermal coal contract prices by 29 percent, predicting a price of $75 a ton. Thermal coal jumped to a record $125 a ton last year..... READ MORE

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