Copper mine capacity is slated to increase by 3.5pc between 2020 and 2023 after seeing a growth of 1pc over the past three years, according to the International Copper Study Group (ICSG).
Attributing the lackadaisical growth of the past to a lack of new mine projects being commissioned, the ICSG predicted that the start of new projects and a ramp up of output in older mines could see copper mine capacity hitting 6pc by 2023. About 90pc of global growth will be comprised of concentrates during this period.
Copper smelter capacity will increase at an average annual rate of 3.3pc over the next three years, with China accounting for 70pc of that growth. Chinese capacity will expand at a slower pace compared to the past despite it being seven times of what it was in 2000. ICSG has projected an addition of another 30pc to existing copper smelting capacities in China by 2023.
Chinese technological prowess has also grown with 13pc of smelters using the country’s technology, up from 2pc a decade ago. New copper smelters are also being planned in the DRC, India, Iran, Indonesia, Chile, and Mongolia. Finland, Sweden, Russia and Uzbekistan, are looking to expand their smelter capacities but they’re all pending approval and will not be ready until after 2023.
ICSG data estimates annual copper refinery capacity to grow through 2023 at 2.3pc per annum, while electrolytic refinery capacity is anticipated to average 2.5pc annual growth. Electrowinning (SX-EW) refinery capacity is projected to average 1.9pc growth per year.
Chinese electrolytic capacity will comprise 85pc of global refined capacity, followed by the DRC, and then, in the form of SX-EW capacity. However, by the beginning of 2024, Chile’s SX-EW capacity will have declined by 10pc.