Europe's Copper Catastrophe: Millions Lost in Startling Heist

A shocking revelation has sent tremors through Europe's copper market.

by Faruk Imamovic
Europe's Copper Catastrophe: Millions Lost in Startling Heist
© Getty Images News/Sascha Schuermann

A shocking revelation has sent tremors through Europe's copper market. Aurubis, the continent's premier copper producer, has announced a massive theft resulting in losses amounting to hundreds of millions of euros. As shares tumble and investigations amplify, questions linger about how such a substantial heist could have transpired.

Discrepancies Discovered During Routine Check

Last Thursday, the German conglomerate revealed during a press release, “During a scheduled review of metal inventories, Aurubis has identified considerable discrepancies in target inventory”.

Pointing towards foul play, the firm emphatically asserted that “criminal activity” was the reason behind this shortfall. Aurubis stands tall in the global metal industry, producing an impressive 1.1 million tonnes (equivalent to 1.2 million tons) of copper "cathodes", which are square sheets, every year.

This production spans their plants scattered across Europe and the United States. Such is the company's stature that it alone contributes to nearly 30% of Europe's production of this particular type of copper. On a broader spectrum, their operations are responsible for between 3% and 5% of the worldwide output, as a spokesperson relayed to CNN.

Given the scale of their operation, it's no surprise that the theft's ramifications have severely impacted Aurubis' financial standing. The company intimated that the losses might lie "in the low, three-digit-million-euro range”.

In light of these unexpected losses, Aurubis warned stakeholders that it's improbable they'll achieve the previously forecasted profit for this fiscal period. Such news invariably sent ripples through the stock market. By Friday mid-afternoon in Europe, Aurubis shares had plummeted by a staggering 12%.

Authorities Step In

In a bid to get to the bottom of this unprecedented theft, Aurubis has brought the State Office of Criminal Investigation of Hamburg, Germany, on board. Considering that Aurubis has its roots in Hamburg, this move is seen as a significant step toward unraveling the mystery.

However, in a twist, the public prosecutor’s office in Hamburg informed CNN on Friday that they had not yet been apprised of any details regarding the theft from either the local police or the criminal investigation office.

In tandem, Aurubis is leaving no stone unturned internally. The company has instigated inquiries by both internal and external experts, aiming to shed light on the event's intricacies and to reinforce security measures, ensuring such a breach does not recur.