New report says Africa, South America to drive copper mine growth

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The International Copper Study Group (ICSG) says it expects copper mine capacity to grow at an average rate of 2.2% a year up to 2021.

It said in its biannual ‘Directory of Copper Mines and Plants’ that the continued increase in copper capacity development is linked to Chinese overseas investments, mainly in Africa and South America.

Meanwhile, till to 2021, yearly copper smelter capacity is expected to grow at an average rate of around 3.5% a year.

The ICSG noted that the average is derived from the lower growth of about 0.5% seen in 2018/19 as compared to growth of 4% expected in 2020/21 when more projects and expansions come on stream.

Concentrates represent around 85% of the total growth in world mine copper capacity until 2021.

The ICSG anticipates 31% of world copper mine capacity growth to 2021 to come from ramp-up and expansions of existing operating mines, 56% from mines that are currently under development and 13% from projects that are currently under feasibility study.

The organisation expects 90% of world copper capacity growth to occur in 2020 and 2021.

“Continued delays in project development are shifting new capacity forward, mainly as a result of [the]length in project permitting, opposition from local communities and budget constraints.”

The ICSG further says there is increased interest in seabed copper exploration with projects being evaluated, the first of which is expected to start producing copper before the end of the decade.

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