CAPE TOWN, Feb 1 (Reuters) - China's copper imports will fall by 1 million tonnes this year, but rising demand from other nations will counter that decline, ensuring strong prices, a Barclays Capital analyst said on Monday.
Kevin Norrish of Barclays Capital told an African mining conference in Cape Town there would be no material growth in copper supply this year.
He projected copper supply growth at 7 percent, but various disruptions to production would keep supply in check.
Norrish said he was bullish that the copper price would hit highs of $8,500 per tonne in 2012 owing to supply constraints.
"If we are going to see a surprise this year, the surprise is going to come from demand... indicators are pointing to a stronger OECD demand rebound," he said.
Copper MCU3 fell to a two-and-a-half month low on Monday, as strong economic data heightened investor concerns that China, the world's top metals consumer, may further tighten monetary policy.