LONDON Chilean copper producer Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco) expects global copper concentrate production to increase 6 percent from 2013 to 2017, with smelting capacity expected to rise 16 percent in the same period, Rodrigo Toro, the companys senior vice president of sales, said at AMM sister publication Metal Bulletins copper concentrate conference in London.
In the United States, concentrate output will rise 15 percent to 1.9 million tonnes in 2017, from 1.6 million tonnes in 2013, Toro said.
Copper concentrate output in Asia without China is expected to increase 3 percent to 3.1 million tonnes by 2017, from 3 million tonnes in 2013. Chinas output is expected to rise 4 percent to 1.7 million tonnes from 1.6 million tonnes.
"The (United States) smelting capacity for 2013 is 1.375 million tonnes, making North America balanced in terms of copper concentrates," Toro said.
For 2017, smelting capacity is not expected to change in North America, South America and Europe.
"The increases in (smelting capacities) will be 15 percent in Africa; 41 percent in China and 10 percent in Asia without China (by 2017)," he added.
China will keep drawing in terms of smelting and refining of copper concentrate, he said, adding that it is already the largest market but there will be 3 million tonnes more in China (in terms of smelting capacity by 2017).
Toro expects average utilization rates at smelters to remain at 87 percent for the next 6 to 7 years, depicting a balanced market.
A utilization rate above 86 to 87 percent means an oversupply of concentrate in the market whereas a utilization rate below 85 percent usually means a deficit, he said.