BHP Billiton and Japan's Nippon Mining & Metals have reached a consensus on fees for copper processing for 2010.
Nippon president Masanori Okada told a mining association news conference that BHP has consented to $46.5 a ton and 4.65 cents a pound treatment and refining charges, a 38% fall on last year's fees of $75 a ton and 7.5 cents a pound.
Okada said the company considers the fees as a benchmark even though talks with other miners are still remaining, according to Reuters.
"Japan's nonferrous metals firms cannot count on their smelting sectors (to make a profit) any more ... and in our case that is why we are putting our efforts in the upstream sector," Okada said.
"Other copper smelters are strengthening other departments such as recycling or electronic materials to make up for their faltering smelting divisions, once a key source of revenue for Japanese smelters."
This year's fees for copper treatment and refining were initially fixed at those levels with US mining company Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold.
Nippon holds a 66% stake in Japan's leading copper smelter Pan Pacific Copper, while Mitsui Mining and Smelting holds the remaining 34% stake.