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China's 'Silk Road' initiative to give more options to copper smelters

Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 18:43

[NANNING] China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative is likely to provide more options for copper resources to Chinese smelters and to encourage firms to build new plants in the areas, industry officials said on Thursday.

China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative seeks to create an economic belt of railways, highways, oil and gas pipelines, power grids and other links across Central, West and South Asia nations.

Some of those nations hold rich copper resources, but production of refined copper is low, providing opportunities to Chinese firms to buy ores or mines, said Yang Changhua, senior analyst of state-backed research firm Antaike, adding Chinese firm could also build smelters in those countries.

Speaking at an industry conference in Nanning in the southwestern region of Guangxi, he said China's copper industry faced overcapacity in metal production and building new capacity in ore-rich countries could help expansion.

The head of copper at industry body China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, Duan Shaofu, said the country's smelting capacity would rise further in the coming years and would need more imports of copper concentrate. He put annual smelting capacity about 6 million tonnes in end-2014.

Duan said some smelters were expected to build new plants in those regions in coming few years.

Smelter Baiyin Nonferrous has suspended the construction of a 200,000-tonne-a-year plant in the northwestern province of Gansu that had been planned to come onstream by the end of this year. It was considering relocating the project to Kazakhstan to take advantage of copper resource there and in support of Beijing's strategy.

Chen Xuesen, a director of raw materials industry department of Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, told the same conference that Chinese firms should try to get mines in Southeast Asia, South America and Africa amid the "deep restructuring" in the global mining industry.

Global copper prices have hovered around six-year lows since the third quarter, adding pressure on miners.

REUTERS

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