CHANGZHOU, Sep 6 (SMM) – Rapid commissioning of new, expanded copper smelting capacity and fewer scheduled maintenance across smelters are set to grow domestic copper production this year, according to SMM senior analyst Sun Ziyang.
China's production of the red metal is expected to rise 10% from last year to 8.8 million mt, he said at the SMM Electric Materials Summit on Thursday September 6 in Changzhou of Jiangsu province.
Copper ore may register a slower growth of 2.8%, or by some 600,000 mt in 2019. This, coupled with rising demand from domestic smelters, is unlikely to support current, high treatment charges (TCs) for imported concentrate in the long run, Sun believes. He forecasted that a higher percentage of 76% of China’s copper concentrate demand will depend on imports by the end of this year.
In the last two years, large amounts of copper smelting capacity were commissioned but secondary smelting capacity accounted for a limited proportion, given tight supplies of raw materials and environmental concerns, Sun said.
According to an SMM survey, nearly 90% of the 900,000 mt of new, expanded refining capacity this year across Chinese copper smelters have begun the processing stage at the end of August. Only some 100,000 mt of annual capacity at SDIC Jincheng Metallurgy has not begun to be processed, SMM learned.