After increasing more than 30 percent in 2017, copper prices have been trending downward since January.
A stronger US dollar, the US Federal Reserve interest rate hike and fears of a trade war have put pressure on prices.
That said, most analysts remain cautiously optimistic about copper prices for the rest of the year, and with that in mind, it’s interesting to look at which copper stocks performed the best in Q1 2018.
The list below was generated using the Globe and Mail’s market data filter, and it shows the TSX-listed copper companies with the biggest share price gains from January 1 to March 29. Only companies with market caps above $50 million are included.
1. Atalaya Mining (TSX:AYM)
Current price: C$4; year-to-date gain: 58.73 percent
Atalaya Mining is a copper producer with Proyecto Riotinto as its main asset. The company operates an open-pit mine whose certified ore reserves stand at 153 million tonnes of ore containing 680,000 tonnes of copper; it also holds fully operational large-scale processing facilities and infrastructure.
In January, the company released a 2017 operational update and its guidance for this year. In March, Atalaya published its 2017 results; it was the first full year of commercial production for the company.
2. Nautilus Minerals (TSX:NUS)
Current price: C$0.22; year-to-date gain: 41.94 percent
Nautilus Minerals is the first company to commercially explore the seafloor for massive sulfide systems, a potential source of high-grade copper, gold, zinc and silver. Nautilus is developing a production system to commercially extract these systems using existing technologies adapted from the offshore oil and gas industry, and from the dredging and mining industries.
It’s been a busy quarter for Nautilus Minerals. In January, the company provided an update on its funding efforts and was granted an exploration license to conduct exploration activities in Papua New Guinea within the Southeast Bismarck Sea.
3. Sierra Metals (TSX:SMT)
Current price: C$3.30; year-to-date gain: 11.11 percent
Sierra Metals is a growing polymetallic mining company with copper production from its Yauricocha mine in Peru and its Bolivar mine in Mexico.
In January, the company released its 2017 production results and guidance for this year. In February, Sierra Metals released results for its current drilling program at the Cuye zone. In March, the company announced its financial results for 2017.
4. Excelsior Mining (TSX:MIN)
Current price: C$1.28; year-to-date gain: 5.79 percent
Excelsior Mining is developing the Gunnison copper project, a low-cost in-situ recovery asset located within the copper porphyry belt of Arizona. The project is scheduled for commercial production in 2018.
5. Ero Copper (TSX:ERO)
Current price: C$8.40; year-to-date gain: 5 percent
Ero Copper is focused on copper production growth from the Vale do Curaçá property, located in Bahia, Brazil. The company currently mines copper ore from the Pilar underground and the Surubim open-pit mines, and is developing the new high-grade Vermelhos copper mine.
In January, the company released its production forecast and guidance for 2018. In February, Ero Copper provided an update on its exploration program. In March, the company published its 2017 results.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.