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Japan Smelters Seeking TC/RCs over $63.5-Industry
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TOKYO Jan 26 (Reuters) - Japanese copper smelters are talking with miners in Canada and elsewhere on copper term processing fees for 2012, aiming to clinch fees of over $63.5 a tonne and 6.35 cent a pound after breaking up talks with global miner BHP .

Japanese smelters can not accept too low a fee as the strong yen reduces the value when converted into the yen, Nobumasa Kemori, chairman of the Japan Mining Industry Association, said.

"Fees below $63.5 are not economically viable," Kemori, who is also the president of Japan's No.2 smelter Sumitomo Metal Mining Co, said. "Even that level is too low -- less than 3 percent of current LME copper prices."

Copper treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) are paid by miners to smelters for converting copper concentrate into refined metal.

Japanese smelters are continuing talks with miners other than BHP on 2012 term contracts, Kemori said. Highland Valley of Canada is among them, a source at a large copper smelter said.

Sumitomo Mining last week broke up term talks with BHP for deliveries from the Escondida mine in Chile, the world's biggest mine majority owned by BHP.

Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold last month agreed a term TC/RC of $63.5 a tonne and 6.35 U.S. cents a pound for concentrate for delivery in 2012 with major Chinese smelter Jiangxi Copper and Japanese smelter Pan Pacific Copper.

The fees are a 12.4 percent increase from 2011's charges.

BHP is seeking lower fees and agreed with China's copper smelters at $60 a tonne and 6 U.S. cents a pound this month, trade and smelter sources said.

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