HONG KONG, March 17 (Reuters) - Tongling Nonferrous is building a 400,000 tonne copper plant that will up its capacity by half by 2012, a company executive said on Wednesday.
The smelter in Anhui province will boost the firm's refined copper production capacity to 1.2 million tonnes a year, he said, making Tongling the top producer in China, the world's largest copper consumer.
"All of the 400,000 tonnes of capacity will start production in 2012," said the executive, who declined to be named because of the unpublished information.
Outotec Oyj, an equipment provider for Tongling, on Tuesday said the smelter would be built in two equal phases, with the first 200,000 tonnes of capacity starting production in mid-2012.
"The new plant will boost our capacity to 1.2 million tonnes of refined copper a year. Now we have 800,000 tonnes," the Tongling executive said, adding that this included Jinlong Copper, a Sino-Japanese venture majority owned by Tongling.
He said the firm's parent company would supply extra copper concentrates to the listed arm, using production from mines in China and overseas.
The listed firm would also import more concentrates to meet the extra demand.
The executive said the firm had no plan to buy lead and zinc assets from the parent company, which was building lead and zinc smelting capacity in Anhui, home of Tongling.
The parent group has purchased a lead and zinc smelter, which has designed annual production capacity of 100,000 tonnes of lead and 100,000 tonnes of zinc and has already started producing lead, and will start smelting zinc within the year, Tongling's chairman Wei Jianghong has said.