The world of commodity trading is a cut-throat business, and copper is seen as the new oil for its capacity to transport electricity from point A to point B. Any tiny edge over your competition is extremely important if you want to become a world-class copper trader and get the benefit that comes with it.
If you want a more formal explanation of the copper industry, I encourage you to read our Copper Ultimate Guide here 👉 https://shippingandcommodityacademy.com/blog/the-ultimate-copper-guide/
Let’s dive in.
What does a copper trader do (in real life)?
A physical copper trader is a professional who deals with the physical buying and selling of copper. This means that they are involved in the process of purchasing, transporting, storing, processing, and selling all sorts of copper (copper ore, copper concentrate, copper cathode, copper ingot, etc..).
In short, a copper trader is the ultimate supply chain manager.
Some of the responsibilities of a physical copper trader may include:
Sourcing copper: Physical copper traders must identify sources of copper and negotiate prices with suppliers (mines, exporters, traders, etc…). They are basically in charge of the relationship with the suppliers.
Logistics management: This could involve arranging for shipping, handling customs and import/export procedures, and managing inventory levels.
Sales and merchandising: They work to develop relationships with potential customers, negotiate prices, and arrange for the delivery of the copper in quality according to the buyer’s specifications.
Risk management: Like most commodities traders handling high liquids, physical copper traders must manage risk. This may involve setting up hedges or other strategies to protect against market volatility, as well as managing inventory levels to ensure that they are not overexposed to market fluctuations.
In a nutshell, physical copper traders play a crucial role in the metal industry by taking the supply chain risks on them.
How rich can you become as a copper trader?
Telis Mistakidis, former head of copper at Glencore, was brought to light when he bought a flat in London for more than 50 million USD. He is a billionaire.
So… Copper could get you far in terms of wealth
But more realistically speaking, a junior trader would start at a minimum 100’000usd based salary (bonus could easily double the base salary). Then later in their career, senior trader could hit +500’000usd with bonus.
What skills are required to become a copper trader ?
Below is the list of skills ChatGPT gives you when you ask the question
- Risk management
- Financial modeling
- Discipline and self-control
As you can see, these are the exact non-value-added skills that a job description would require. Those skills are just table stakes, you won’t get an edge over your competition with those.
But, if you remember what we wrote at the beginning of the post, a physical commodity trader is the ultimate supply chain manager; therefore, in order to smack your competition, you need to be better at them understanding your buyers and sellers.
Meaning the more you understand how a mine works, the better you’d be equipped to source copper. And the same applies on the sale side; the better you understand how a smelter works, the better equipped you are to sell copper.
Knowing that the ultimate hack to become a metal trader in our modern era is to understand metallurgy.
Metallurgy is the science and technology of extracting metals from ores, refining them, and preparing them for use in various applications. It involves studying the physical and chemical properties of metals, as well as the processes used to extract, purify, and transform them into usable materials.
A high level of understanding in metallurgy will allow you to speak to your clients. Equally, you would be able to understand his issues and propose solutions. Fewer and fewer people in the western world understand metallurgy. This is the ultimate hack. Seriously.
What languages should I learn as a copper trader?
If you want to be a copper trader, there are several languages that you could consider learning besides English (of course…). Here are a few languages that may be useful for a copper trader:
Spanish: Many copper-producing countries, such as Chile and Peru, have Spanish as their primary language. Learning Spanish could be helpful if any case, this is the primary language in more than 20 countries. It is estimated that 500 million people speak Spanish as a native language.
Mandarin: China is one of the largest consumers of copper in the world, and Mandarin is the primary language spoken in China. Seriously as a non-Chinese, learning Mandarin is a cheat code to life.
French: French is spoken in several African countries that are significant producers of copper, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ultimately, the best language(s) to learn will depend on your specific goals and plans as a copper trader.
What is the best way to become a copper trader?
Becoming a physical copper trader requires putting yourself in a situation to be able to get a seat when a position opens in a commodity trading firm.
You need to get the right type of experience that will allow you to develop a network. Finding an entry-level job in trading or related fields will provide valuable experience and help you develop industry contacts. Look for opportunities at commodity trading firms, mining companies, or smelting companies.
Then you need to put your name out here, attend as many conferences and industry events as possible. Join associations and do everything in your power to meet others industry players.
In addition, I would start to publish online about your learning of the copper industry. Think LinkedIn, Twitter, Blog, etc… the aim is not to grow a following, but to have materials for a potential future employee to look at.
Also, don’t hesitate to think about enrolling for the Shipping And Commodity Operator Certificate; a lot of alumni have new work for the biggest copper trader in the world.
Keep in mind that becoming a physical copper trader takes time and dedication.