SHANGHAI, Nov. 16 (SMM) –SMM's latest survey showed that the average operating rate at scrap copper smelters continued to fall in October, down to 53.8%. As medium and large scrap copper smelters can access several purchasing channels, many are increasing purchases on overseas markets to lock in raw material supplies given recent shortages on the domestic market. At the same time, however, the persistence of the inverted price differential between scrap and refined copper has propelled some medium and large smelters to advance maintenance, precipitating a slight decline in their operating rates. Most small- and medium-sized scrap copper smelters remained shuttered, contributing to the extreme tightness in scrap copper supply. As a result, processing fees for US #2 copper fell to RMB 800-1,000/mt last week and look set to fall further. While scrap copper supplies remain tight and processing fees low, scrap copper smelters will continue to scale back production.