Workers stack
copper coming off
the line at Zambian
processing facility 
Lisbon, Portugal — MININGREVIEW.COM — January 16, 2008 – Global copper mining production capacity in the four-year period from 2007 to 2011 is expected to increase by 30% to an annual total of 22 million tonnes.

So says the International Copper Study Group (ICSG), an inter-governmental organisation that serves to increase copper market transparency and promote international discussions and cooperation on issues related to copper.

In its “Forecast 2007-2008” released here, the ICSG predicts that, based on latest information and project developments, annual copper mine production capacity will grow at an average rate of 5.3% per year. Of the total increase, copper in concentrate capacity is expected to rise by 3Mt (an average of 4%/pa) and solvent extraction production by 2.1 Mt (10%/pa). “Africa and South America will account for more than 66% of the mine capacity increase,” the group points out.

“Annual smelter capacity is projected to grow by an average of 2.9%/yr (about 1%/pa lower than the projected growth in concentrate capacity) to reach 18.8 Mt in 2011,” the statement adds.

Primarily due to several project expansions and start-ups in China, the smelter growth rate averages 3.3%/y during the first three years, and is projected to exceed the corresponding annual concentrate growth rate over that period, according to the ISCG. “The situation will be reversed beginning in 2010 when significant new concentrate capacity comes on stream,” the group says.

The ICSG projects that world refinery capacity will reach 25.2 Mt in 2011 – a 22% increase in less than five years.

About 2.5 Mt of the expansion is expected to come from electrolytic refineries and 2 Mt from electro-winning capacity. The average growth rate over the period 2007-2011 for electrolytic refineries is projected to be 2.9%/pa – about the same as the projected growth in smelter capacity – while the growth rate for electro-winning capacity (at the refinery level) is expected to be 10%/pa. China (electrolytic) and Congo (electro-winning) will contribute about one half (2 Mt) of the total world refinery capacity rise.