Global copper mine production to grow 3.7% annually over 2021-2029: Fitch report

A new Fitch Solutions report has forecasted global copper mine production increasing by an average annual rate of 3.7% over 2021-29, with total output rising from 21.5 million tonnes (Mt) to 27.8 Mt in this time.

According to the report, copper production will increase by 6.9% year-on-year in 2021, due to multiple new projects coming online and COVID-19 lockdowns reducing output in 2020.

In the world’s top copper producing country – Chile – BHP’s Spence Growth Option project is expected to deliver first production between December 2020 and March 2021. It will increase payable copper production by 185,000 tonnes per annum once ramped up.

Fitch also sees Chilean production being boosted by the return of workers to BHP’s Escondida mine next year. The forecast is also reliant on Lundin Mining being able to reach an amicable solution with its Chilean unions by year-end.

In neighbouring Peru, Fitch expects copper mine production to bounce back strongly in 2021 to record year-on-year growth of 20%, with several new projects coming online.

The research firm believes Chinese investment will play an increasingly important role in Peru’s copper sector, as well as in the DRC.

“Chinese copper miners will remain committed to investing in copper deposits abroad to secure access to high-grade, low-cost material,” Fitch said.

“For instance, in October 2019, Zijin Mining announced that it would spend US$146 million to increase its interest in Ivanhoe Mining. The purchase will make Zijin the second largest shareholder in the company developing the Kamoa-Kakula copper mine in the DRC.”