The world's biggest copper producer, Chile's Codelco, is of course a State-owned company and as such, doesn't report its profit or losses in the same way as a privately owned or publicly listed company. It usually offers the market a number called "los excedentes", literally what's left over after Codelco pays all its taxes, contributions to the State and the other things it pays that other companies don't. However, those jolly nice chaps at Codelco do supply lots of numerical breakdowns with their quarterly reports so it's possible to put together tables like this one over at area minera today:
And all that Spanish labelling is fine for me, but it's the one at the bottom that gives us a decent benchmark about how things are going at Copper Company Number One. "Ganancia Comparable" is the profit Codelco would have returned if it were any other normal, non-nationalized company. Here's how those quarters stack up against each other:
In other words, "profits" at Codelco are down $610m for the quarter and it's pretty clear that lower prices for copper, as well as the lower grades that Codelco is reportedly processing now, are now filtering their way through to producer bottom lines. In short, margins are getting squeezed.