LONDON, Oct. 16 -- Chinese copper smelters expect consumption in the world's top copper consumer and global prices of the metal to strengthen in 2010, as leading economies recover.
Senior executives at large Chinese copper smelters, including Jiangxi Copper (0358.HK), Yunnan Copper (000878.SZ) , Tongling Nonferrous and Jinchuan Group attended an exclusive gathering of copper smelters late on Wednesday in London.
They said Chinese copper consumption growth in 2010 would be supported as Beijing's $585 billion stimulus package, launched earlier this year, would produce significant results.
"Demand for investment and stockpiling would also be steady next year," said Niu Hao, general manager of Yunnan Copper, the fourth-largest smelter in China.
China's consumption may rise at least 10 percent on the year to above 5.5 million tonnes in 2009, said Gan Chengjiu, chief financial officer at Jiangxi Copper.
Gan's estimate topped the prediction made by state-backed research group Antaike which has put this year's consumption at 5.5 million tonnes.
High availability of cash resulting from relatively loose monetary policy in China would also boost demand for copper, said an executive at Jinlong Copper, majority owned by Tongling Nonferrous (000630.SZ) which is the second-biggest copper producer in China after Jiangxi Copper.
Loose credit has prompted Chinese speculators to stock copper this year and boosted the country's imports to record highs in the first half.
Antaike said some 860,000 tonnes of copper may be stored in private warehouses as of late September.
Copper prices on the London Metal Exchange MCU3 have doubled this year on strong Chinese demand.
The price is expected to stay strong next year and the average price would be higher as the global economy would be better than this year, smelter executives said.
A Reuters poll released on Thursday found that copper is set to extend its bullish streak in 2010, with analysts overhauling mid-year forecasts due to unprecedented financial stimulus that they expect to boost demand for base metals.
"Copper prices in 2010 should be stronger than this year," Yunnan Copper's Niu said.
Tight copper concentrate is also expected to support global copper prices next year, a senior executive at one of the top smelters in China said.
"Next year, there is no major new copper mine to start production," he said.