China’s copper smelters are bracing themselves for possible output cuts in 2004 in response to a severe global shortage of copper concentrate, their main raw material.
China’s appetite for refined copper is growing rapidly and the country may be forced to increase imports.
China’s six largest copper producers – Jiangxi Copper Industry, Yunnan Copper, Tongling Nonferrous, Daye Nonferrous, Jinchuan Nonferrous Metals Corp and Zhongtiaoshan Nonferrous Metal – announced they were considering a possible coordinated production cut.
Most Chinese smelters do not have long-term contracts for their concentrate needs and buy in the spot market.
Despite talk of output cuts in 2004, China is expected to increase total refined copper output to about 1.65 million tons for 2003, up from 1.56 million tons in 2002.