World copper-mining capacity to reach 22m t/y by 2011 – study group

By: Liezel Hill (Mining Weekly)
Published: 14 Dec 07 - 0:23

Global copper mine output capacity is expected to grow at an average rate of 5,3% a year between 2007 and 2011, the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) said on Thursday.

In a statement on the release of its December 2007 Director of Copper Mines and Plants, the group predicted that mine capacity for the metal would reach 22-million tons in 2011, an increase of about 5-million tons, or 30%, from 2006.

However, annual smelter capacity was projected to grow by an average of 2,9% a year - about 1% a year lower than the projected growth in concentrate capacity - to reach only 18,8-million tons in 2011.

Of the total increase in mine output capacity, copper in concentrate capacity is expected to increase by three-million tons (an average of 4% a year) and solvent extraction–electrowinning production by 2,1-million tons (10% a year).

“South America and Africa will account for more than 3,2-million tons (66%) of the mine capacity increase,” the ICSG said.

The average smelter growth rate for the first three years (2008 – 2010) , at 3,3%, is expected to exceed the corresponding concentrate growth rate, mainly because of several project expansions and start-ups in China

However, the situation would be reversed from in 2010, when significant new concentrate capacity is scheduled to come on stream.

“Assuming that smelter capacity utilisation rates rise from the current low level to their historical average, smelter capacity over the entire forecast period should be sufficient to treat additional concentrate production,” the ICSG said.

“Short-term shifts in the concentrate supply-demand balance could occur, however, from
the unequal distribution of growth.”

The ICSG, established in 1992, is an intergovernmental organisation that aims to increase copper market transparency and promote international discussions and cooperation on issues related to copper.

Edited by: Unknown

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