* Copper expected to average $3.80 in '12, $3.90 in '13
* Prices expected to soften in 2014 on new output
* Chinese demand to drive market, mine minister says
By Pav Jordan
TORONTO, March 6 Global copper prices will
likely rise over the next two years as demand of the industrial
metal outstrips production, Chile's mining minister said on
Tuesday, but the trend should reverse after 2014 as new output
comes on line.
Hernan de Solminihac, mine minister of the world's largest
copper producer, said he was confident China's industrialization
would continue to drive demand for the metal, a conductor of
heat and electricity that's not easily replaced with cheaper
"We believe that the fundamentals of the copper industry
will be maintained," said De Solminihac in an interview at PDAC,
the sprawling Toronto mining industry convention organized by
the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada.
"In China in particular we are following demand very
closely, where there are a lot of new projects for buildings and
for electricity, and moving people from rural areas to urban
areas," he said. "They have a lot of projects that will help
support copper buying."
De Solminihac said Chile is expecting an average price of
around $3.80 a pound this year, and $3.90 next year. Prices are
expected to drop to $3 or lower by 2014.
On Tuesday, copper was trading at $3.75 a pound in New York,
pressured lower by a strong U.S. dollar and concerns that
slower economic growth in China will weaken demand.
China, the world's second-largest economy, cut its economic
growth target on Monday to an eight-year low of 7.5 percent,
sending global equities and commodities lower.
Chile, already the world's largest copper producer and
China's key supplier, is seen producing some 7.5 million tonnes
of copper within eight years, up from about 5.2 million tonnes
As well as state-run Codelco, the world's largest copper
producer, such publicly traded copper giants as BHP Billiton,
Xstrata and Anglo American operate in the South
(Editing by Frank McGurty)