By Carolina Curiel
SPOKANE (Scrap Monster): The International Copper Study Group (ICSG) has released the latest edition of its bi-annual Directory of Copper Mines and Plants. The Directory presents facility-wise production capacity details across the globe. It incorporates updated capacity and ownership details of nearly 1,200 individual facilities. In addition to details such as country wise summary of existing capacities, the Directory also outlines the list of major projects that are expected to be developed over the next ten-year period.
According to the ICSG publication, the operating capacity of global mines and refineries averaged around 85% during the past five years. The average capacity grew at a rate of almost 4% in last five years. However, during the period through 2020, the annual copper mine production capacity is expected to grow at a lesser rate of 2.5% per year. ICSG forecasts that concentrates will account for 90% of the total growth in world mine production capacity through 2020. Also, 55% of additional copper mine capacity expected to become online during this period will be in China, Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Peru and Zambia. Delays in project permitting procedures, opposition to mining from local communities and financial limitations have delayed development of many projects. This has impacted addition of new capacities.
The production capacity in countries that started copper mining during last decade is expected to touch nearly 420,000 tonnes per year (tpy) by 2020. In addition, planned mining projects in new countries such as Afghanistan, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Greece, Israel, Panama, Sudan and Thailand is expected to contribute 330,000 tpy. Also, considering the various mining projects under evaluation stage in these countries, the capacity could easily exceed well above 1 Million tpy. This is under the assumption that all these projects advance into development stage.
The copper smelter production capacity grew at an average rate of 3% per year during the past five years. ICSG predicts growth of 1.7% through 2020. The Chinese pace of expansion of smelter capacity is expected to slow down during this period. The country which witnessed four-fold surge in smelter production capacity during 200-2016, is expected to increase further by 20% until 2020. The country is expected to account for 80% growth in world-wide smelting capacity. Many countries including DRC, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Mongolia have announced construction of new copper smelters, but not before 2020.
The growth in annual copper refinery production capacity is expected to more than halve to 1.2% per year through 2020, as compared with the average growth rate of 3% per year during the past five years. Electrolytic refineries, projected to grow at an average rate of 1.5% per year, are expected to account for nearly 80% of the growth in refinery capacity. Electrolytic refineries in China will contribute to 65% of world refinery capacity addition. Also, Chile is likely to report 15% decline in electrowinning capacity through 2020.
Among regions, Africa is likely to post highest growth in annual mine capacity through 2020, followed by Asia and Europe. Asia is projected to report highest growth in annual smelter growth, followed by Africa. Africa is expected to lead the annual refinery capacity growth, closely followed by Asian region.