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Trends in resource acquisition measures of the Japanese copper industry Younker, Richard Stewart

Abstract

This thesis seeks to explore trends and developments in the direction of new capital investment decisions by the Japanese copper industry, in order to determine what factors may influence the nature and extent of participations by Japanese interests in overseas copper mining, exploration, and development ventures. Japan is becoming an increasingly important factor in the world copper market, and it is argued that the policies which the Japanese adopt in securing their raw material resources will have an important bearing on the world copper industry. It is assumed that Japanese interest in securing raw material resources for her copper industry can be expressed as a dynamic model which is dependent upon Japanese expectations of future market supply and demand conditions for copper both at home and abroad. For purposes of analysis a theoretical model is constructed to explain the nature and extent of Japanese overseas participations in copper. The model is based on an analysis of the financial risks involved in copper mining, exploration and development, and on an analysis of trends taking place in the world copper industry today. Selected case examples are used to illustrate the hypotheses of the model. The price at which Japan buys and sells her copper is fixed in the world market by supply and demand conditions largely beyond her control. It is argued that a reorganization of existing marketing structures is probable and that this is likely to lead to more stable prices within the industry. It also appears probable that the U.S. producer price and the LME price will converge as the LME increasingly comes to reflect all rather than marginal market forces. In future, prices within the industry will come to increasingly reflect the long run average cost of production for mine output, plus a reasonable margin for profit. In order to maintain control over the form and delivery of her copper needs, and to increase the profitability of her metal mining firms it is argued that Japan must find and develop mines at a production cost below the long run world market price of copper. To accomplish this goal, Japan must spread her exploration efforts abroad and invest wherever she finds worthwhile development prospects in a conducive economic and political environment.

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