Mar. 7 (Bloomberg)-Chile, the world's biggest copper producer, expects a "very small" copper-market supply deficit this year and prices for the metal may average about $3.80 to $3.85 a pound, Mining Minister Hernan de Solminihac said.
The balance between supply and demand for the metal will be similar to 2011, he said today in an interview in Toronto, where he was attending the annual Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada convention.
"In the short term, this year and the next, the price will remain at these levels," he said.
Copper production in Chile is expected to increase to 7.5 million tons in the next eight years from 5.2 million tons, de Solminihac told reporters earlier.
Copper futures for May delivery declined 3.2 percent to settle at $3.7375 a pound on the Comex in New York. The metal has climbed 8.8 percent this year.