Copper production expected to grow to 1m tonnes in 2019

Copper production expected to grow to 1m tonnes in 2019

Worldwide copper production capacity at mine level through 2019 is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 4% to reach 26.5 million tonnes (mt) a year in 2019, according to a new report by the International Copper Study Group.

The Lisbon-based research company said the estimated 2019 annual production represents a growth of more than 3.9mt or 17% compared to the 2015 total.

According to ICSG, concentrate output will represent more than 83% of the expansion with production growing by 3.9mt through 2019 to 21mtpa.

Nearly 670,000t of solvent-extraction/electro-winning capacity will be added over the same period to reach 5.5mtpa in 2019.

Compared with the group’s previous estimate published in December, expected annual mine production capacity for 2018 and 2019 was revised down by 200,000t and 500,000t, due to continued delays for various expansion and greenfield developments.

“Peru is projected to account for 25% of the additional capacity from the new mine projects and expansions through 2019, followed by Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, China and Mexico,” said the ICSG. “Together these five countries will represent 65% of the world growth.”

Additional projects being planned that do not mine copper include: Afghanistan, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Greece, Israel, Panama, Sudan and Thailand.

“By 2019, total expected coper production capacity from projects starting in these new copper mining countries could reach 330,000tpa and capacity could continue to increase well above 1mt/year if projects under evaluation in these countries are developed,” added analysts from ICSG.

Yearly copper smelter capacity growth is expected to slow behind the growth in concentrate capacity, increasing by an average of nearly 3% per year to reach 22.8mtpa in 2019, an increase of 2.4mt compared to 2015.