|Event Date/Time: Nov 08, 2004||End Date/Time: Nov 10, 2004|
China's copper industry continues to astound, with consumption rising by 15% last year and projections that usage will carry on rising by 10% per year for the rest of this decade. China now accounts for 20% of world consumption of copper sheet and strip, and usage in cable, wire, tube and pipe is likewise marching ahead. Set against this are predictions of a much more limited rise in domestic copper production of around 3% per year. Raw materials availability will be an all-important key to Chinese refined producton levels in the coming years but it is clear the country will continue to be a strong importer of everything from scrap to concentrate to cathode to feed its rapidly building downstream industry.
In zinc, China has for the past decade been a net exporter. But this scenario has changed of late, with double-digit annual growth rates in consumption converting the country into a net importer. China today accounts for 25% of world zinc output but over 20% of consumption. And interestingly, with only a relatively small proportion of zinc in China – just 25-30% - going into galvanizing, the potential for higher usage in this application is very significant. As in copper, raw materials shortages are a major restraining factor on China's potential to grow its zinc smelting business. Capacity is forecast to rise strongly between now and the end of the decade but much of this planned capacity may remain on the drawing board unless the country can assure itself of adequate concentrate feed at tenable treatment charges.
As far as lead is concerned, China has traditionally played a major swing producer role – exporting when prices are high and stockpiling when they are not so attractive. However, with consumption of this metal also growing strongly in China, exports last year were significantly curtailed. 2004 has seen some restitution of export shipments to take advantage of high prices, but the longer-term picture for Chinese lead is less clear. Investment in new smelter capacity is underway but will these new metal units be available to the world at large or will they be absorbed by the local consumption base?
Building on the success of the Chinese Copper Conference last year, Metal Bulletin in conjuction with Minmetals, is this year holding a Chinese Base Metals Conference which will focus on the key role China plays as a producer – and particularly as a voracious consumer – of copper, lead and zinc . This event will home in on these three key sectors, in metal-specific sessions, looking at how what happens in China can affect global suppy-demand balances, and analysing how, when and in what applications the workshop of the world that is China today is consuming these metals.