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Opportunities ahead for copper industry: Rio Tinto

Keywords: Tags  copper, Rio Tinto, Jean-Sebastian Jacques, Andrea Hotter

SANTIAGO, Chile — The copper industry is facing four megatrends that will bring great opportunities, alongside longer lead times for new supply and higher structural costs, Rio Tinto copper division chief executive officer Jean-Sebastien Jacques said.

The most positive of these trends—the growth of the world’s emerging-market economies—will create an additional 11 million tonnes of demand by 2024, he said.

Emerging markets accounted for 35 percent of copper demand in 2000, but this will reach 77 percent by 2024, Jacques said April 9 at the 12th World Copper Conference in Santiago.

"We estimate the copper industry will need to add 4 million tonnes per year (of output) just to keep up with 2012 (demand) levels," he said, but added that supply will become more "challenging."

Grades will continue to decline, and projects—both greenfield and brownfield—will start to dry up from 2015.

Jacques also noted trends of social and political risks associated with new copper projects, structurally higher costs in a resource-constrained world and heightened environmental awareness requiring greater energy efficiency.

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