ChinaLOC copper stocks owned by state reserve - trade . Lynne O'DonnellPER HONG KONGLOC 1996-08-23 Up to 100,000 tonnes of copper held in ShanghaiLOC bonded warehouses , confounding the world market as to its source and ultimate fate , probably belongs to ChinaLOC 's strategic state reserve , industry sources said on Friday . Around 40,000 tonnes of the copper have already been moved to warehouses near the northern port of YingkouLOC , where some of the strategic stockpile was stored , they said . Just who owns the copper is a question that has kept traders and industry analysts guessing since the metal was channelled into ShanghaiLOC by the China National Nonferrous Metals Import and Export CorpORG ( CNIECORG ) in June and July . It was unclear whether or not the 40,000 tonnes had cleared customs -- which would provide some concrete indication that the strategic reserve , administered directly by the central government 's State Planning CommissionORG , owned the copper . Traders have said the reserve could negotiate concessions on duties -- three percent import tax and 17 percent value-added tax -- that made the copper prohibitively expensive otherwise . But one source , the head of a Hong KongLOC trading house , said it made no difference if the copper was customs cleared or not . " If they spend all this money moving the copper to YingkouLOC , it will be sitting there for years , " he said . " Once it arrives in YingkouLOC , it is subject to monitoring by the State Planning CommissionORG , which has to give permission for any more movement ; it is out of the hands of traders , " he said . Mystery has surrounded the ShanghaiLOC stockpile in recent months , with traders unsure not only of who owns it , but of its exact size and what its owner planned to do with it . Trading sources generally agreed it would be cost-effective to take the copper back into a depleted central reserve as it had already served its purpose in taking advantage of long-term backwardation on the London Metal ExchangeORG ( LMEORG ) . A backwardation occurs when the spot price of a metal is higher than the forward price . CNIECORG lent around 85,000 tonnes of copper onto the LMEORG between April and June 1995 on behalf of the state reserve , running the state stockpile down to 115,000 tonnes from 200,000 tonnes previously . Traders in AsiaLOC said CNIECORG could well have lent it to the market at around US$MISC 2,700 a tonne , and then paid somewhere between $ 2,200 and $ 2,400 a tonne when it started taking the metal back earlier this year . This would have cleared CNIECORG a healthy profit , which could then have been used to finance storage and other costs . Word that CNIECORG had offered the copper to EuropeanMISC trading houses in a series of secret meetings unnerved an already jittery market . Industry analysts Bloomsbury Minerals EconomicsORG ( BMEORG ) said on Wednesday the motivation of the owners of the 85,000 tonnes , " whoever they are , is the most important short-term fundamental " in an already tight world market . BMEORG repeated in its latest review rumours of involvement by Sumitomo CorpORG , with CNIECORG said to be helping the JapaneseMISC trader unload its copper positions after it revealed in June losses of $ 1.8 billion in a decade of unauthorised deals . SumitomoORG and CNIECORG have made no comments on the talk and ChineseMISC traders said they know nothing of such an arrangement . Traders in ShanghaiLOC said on Thursday they were unaware of movements out of the ShanghaiLOC bonded warehouses . They reported more arrivals that were probably spot purchases . They also expressed concern that the tonnage in bonded warehouses would move onto the domestic market . But these concerns were irrelevant , a SingaporeLOC trader said , despite a forecast that domestic ChineseMISC copper demand could hit one million tonnes this year . As with many commodities , " there is a desire ( by the ChineseMISC government ) to keep a stockpile of the metal , " he said . " You do n't keep it to help industry , you keep it in case of emergency . " -- Hong KongLOC newsroom ( 852 ) 2843-6470