HAMBURG, June 19 (Reuters) - Chinese copper demand is expected to continue to expand in the second half of 2012 as the country's moves to stimulate its economy are likely to raise consumption of the metal, Germany's Aurubis, Europe's biggest copper producer, said on Tuesday.
"China's demand for copper is still projected to reach 8.4 million tons this year, i.e. 8 percent above last year's volume," Aurubis said in a report.
"Since many raw material investors are still currently bracing themselves for a moderate weakening of economic growth, the biggest risk for copper apart from the euro crisis arises from a modified view of China.
"Investors still appear to be relaxed, however. Infrastructure projects are being accelerated by the government at the moment, while programmes to promote growth in the industrial sector have been announced."
China's surprise cut in interest rates on June 7 could also help promote economic growth in the country, Aurubis said.
"What this specifically means for copper is that demand from China could rise again in the second half of 2012, though this is not evident yet," it said.
Meanwhile, the spot market for copper concentrates is showing some signs of recovery after recent stagnation, it said.
Spot copper treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) are firming, it said.
This is "primarily due to a clear reduction in the demand by smelters because of significant maintenance downtimes," Aurubis said.
TC/RCs are paid by miners to smelters to refine concentrate into metal and are a key part of the global copper industry's income.
"As for long-term contracts, first agreements transpired during semi-annual negotiations, reaching $63.50 a tonne and 6.35 cents/lb and above, attaining the level of the annual contracts for 2012," it said.
The recent copper price weakness has affected the European copper scrap market, causing the scrap supply to decline somewhat, it said. Demand for copper products has barely changed compared to May.