Copper theft increased to a level of R11.1 million in June, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Monday. File photo: Ihsaan Haffejee

Johannesburg - Copper theft increased to a level of R11.1 million in June, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said on Monday.

According to the Sacci Copper Theft Barometer, copper theft stood at R9m in May and R9.9m in April.

Sacci said the June increase was the first since September 2012.

The increase was 38 percent lower than a year before, indicating a long-term decrease in the level of copper theft.

The Copper Theft Volume Indicator increased to a level of 158 metric tons in June from 132 metric tons in May.

The international spot price of copper dropped to a monthly average, to date, of $6 919 (around R68 000) per metric ton in July 2013, from $7 003 in June and $7 237 in May.

This was 8.8 percent lower than a year before and the first time the average monthly price had breached the US7000 (about R68,670) level in almost two years.

Copper waste exports increased to US36.8m (about R361m) in February, from US35.1m (about R344m) in January.

The February figure was 15 percent less than a year before.

Sacci CEO Neren Rau said the outlook on copper theft remained positive over the short to medium-term despite the “unfortunate increase in June”.

He said this was due to the downward trend in the international copper price.

“Although there is a relationship between the copper price and theft levels, it is not perfectly correlated. Short-term structural factors like the effectiveness of law enforcement in combating copper theft also impacts substantially on theft levels,” he said. - Sapa