Watch these 3 S&P/ASX 200 copper miners if US sanctions spread

The effects of US sanctions on Russia are already being clocked in the aluminium space with the likes of Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) upgrading its production guidance for aluminium from 3.5 million tonnes to 3.7 million tonnes.

So what if the US sanctions spread to copper and other minerals?

Several S&P/ASX 200 companies with copper interests could be impacted positively by such a move. We will take a look at who, below.

BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP)

Commodities giant BHP Billiton Limited has substantial interest in oil and gas, but also operates interests in copper.

In 2017 BHP announced it would invest $2.46 billion to extend the life of its Spence Mine in Northern Chile by more than 50 years.

BHP named copper one of its “preferred commodities” at the time with the expansion said to create 5,000 jobs and deliver long-term value for shareholders.

BHP is certainly poised to take advantage of any benefits set to arise from an extension of US sanctions to include copper and its share price has been on the rise lately – up 3% to $31 at the time of writing.

Sandfire Resources NL (ASX: SFR)

Shares in copper-gold miner Sandfire Resources have had a successful 12-months in terms of share price rises and it is on the S%P/ASX 200 gains list today – up 2.5% to $8.53 at the time of writing – a 52-week high for the stock.

Sandfire released strong half-year results for the six months to December 31 2017, with record sales revenue and price adjustment gains of $296.2 million and earnings per share of 37.7c.

Sandfire’s Monty Copper-Gold Project – a joint venture with Talisman Mining – is ahead of schedule at present and strong operational results are forecast for FY18.

Although a much smaller player than the likes of BHP, Sandfire is still primed to take advantage of any benefits that may come its way if copper sanctions are imposed by the US alongside those in place for aluminium.

Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO)

Minerals and metals giant Rio Tinto Limited’s portfolio of assets includes copper, aluminium, and iron ore – meaning it is already in the midst of a surge of investor confidence due to the US sanctions already in place.

Rio Tinto shares are up 2.4% to $80.92 at the time of writing after a fairly decent 12 months from just $58.90 at this time last year.

Investors have plenty of reasons to be excited about Rio Tinto after the release of its March quarter production report yesterday reported production increases in most commodities with copper recording the biggest jump as production surged 65%.

Rio’s update had no negative surprises with bauxite production up 12% and a lift in iron ore guidance.

If the sanctions spread to nickel this could impact ASX companies like Western Areas Ltd (WSA) and Independence Group NL (ASX: IGO) in a similar fashion.

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Motley Fool contributor Carin Pickworth has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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