Johannesburg - Copper theft in March rose to its highest
level since early 2010, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said on
Sacci's Copper Theft Barometer was R34.7m in March -
significantly higher than February's R22.8m, Sacci said in a statement.
"This is the highest level for the barometer since
early 2010, but the sudden and unexpected increase is hopefully an outlier (it
does not reflect the rest of the data) rather than the beginning of a highly
problematic upward trend in copper theft," Sacci said.
"The outlier is most likely due to a financial year-end
accounting reconciliation, which included data on copper theft from the
previous six months."
In 2011, the barometer averaged R17.8m.
Sacci said copper theft had been declining due to successful
efforts against criminal syndicates and the introduction of the Second-Hand
Goods Act, which contains specific measures against dealing in stolen copper.
"The successful implementation of the act together with
improved operational intelligence should reduce copper theft levels, and prove
March's level to be the last spike before the permanent downturn," Sacci
The barometer - started in December 2010 - is an indicator
of the estimated cost of replacing copper cable stolen from major users
Transnet, Telkom, and Eskom.
Sacci said global copper theft was driven by the high demand
from end users in rapidly growing economies like China.
The spot price for copper dropped to $8 251 per tonne in
March from $8 465 the month before, Sacci said.
"This is the first monthly decrease in the price of
copper for the year and may signal a slight downward trend for the second
quarter of 2012, barring a strong show of investor confidence in Europe."
Sacci said the lower price could help to reduce copper theft
in South Africa.
"The short-term price trend, together with strengthened
local policing efforts against copper theft syndicates, makes dealing in stolen
copper less profitable and more risky for organised criminals and should
translate to lower copper theft levels in South Africa."