John Fennell

John Fennell, Chief Executive Officer at International Copper Association. Australia.

COVID-19 is putting the spotlight on Australia’s home grown industries and for copper that means MM Kembla says John Fennell.

MM Kembla was founded in 1916 to convert Australia’s rich copper resources to finished copper products and reduce the reliance on off shore production. It was a time of great global uncertainty, coinciding with one of the most tragic and monumental events in history, World War I.

Fast forward over a century and the world once again finds itself facing a painful historic moment. The very reason for which MM Kembla- Australia’s only remaining copper tube manufacturer-was founded still rings true – to protect and develop local industries that serve the needs of Australians.


In this pandemic MM Kembla’s copper tube is being used for piping systems that are critical to the specific needs of our nation and the ongoing health of all Australians, including:

  • Potable water plumbing services for the continued delivery of safe drinking water
  • The distribution of refrigerants to operate refrigeration systems within supermarkets and food storage facilities that are in high demand
  • The transmission and administering of oxygen and medical gases in hospitals and health care facilities for patients, medical suction lines and medical tooling
  • The continued operation of heating, cooling, air conditioning, ventilation and mechanical systems that operate to maintain livable environments for healthcare workers, Government, commercial and multi-residential buildings

Maintaining a supply chain for professional trades such as plumbers to access critical product is of utmost importance. This is particularly true in times when infrastructure will be tested due to surges in demand and capacity restrictions in some sectors such as healthcare.

It is also good to remember that copper is one of the safest touch surfaces on the planet due to its antimicrobial properties. Copper has an inherent ability to kill bacteria and viruses, sometimes within minutes, and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

A recent U.S. government-funded study conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, remained viable for up to 2 to 3 days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces as compared to up to 4 hours on copper.

The biggest studies in the U.S. and U.K. have shown that surfaces either made of copper or copper alloy resist germ build up, with a significant drop of infection spread in hospital rooms with installed copper surfaces.


During the COVID-19 pandemic supply out of Europe and Asia has experienced interruptions, demonstrating the need for the continued capability of local production in Australia by companies like MM Kembla.

Manufacturing approximately 87% of the copper tube volume they sell out of Port Kembla NSW, chances are if you are purchasing MM Kembla copper tube, you are supporting local Australian manufacturing. Supporting local manufacturing also supports the array of companies that form this supply chain, for example Australian copper mines.

With MM Kembla sourcing its copper cathode raw material from Olympic Dam in South Australia you are also supporting one of the cornerstones of Australia and its economy, the mining sector. When it comes to copper tube there is only one Australian manufacturer so the choice to support locally manufactured product is simple – look for the MM Kembla brand.

MM Kembla has undertaken many initiatives to protect its employees, customers, suppliers and the wider community in preventing the spread of the virus and maintaining business continuity. They have continued working within the current Government guidelines and implemented many activities to ensure they can maintain supply to our local market.

Government has been forced to make decisions to protect us all during this unprecedented time. The importance of local manufacturing should be considered when making future decisions to ensure ongoing local manufacturing capabilities, something that will underpin a nation that can continue to be self-sufficient in the future.

As an industry, we can all play our part in showing support Australian manufacturing. Unlike many other products, copper tube is still manufactured in Australia and the opportunity to influence its future local availability and contribute to the rich history of metal manufacturing in Australia is as important as ever. If you are buying Kembla you are buying local.