China Says It Needs 18% More Copper by ‘20 as Economy Shifts

China Says It Needs 18% More Copper by ‘20 as Economy Shifts

China Says It Needs 18% More Copper by ‘20 as Economy Shifts
Molten copper pours into an anode casting wheel at the Aurubis AG metals plant in Hamburg, Germany. (Photographer: Martin Leissl/Bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) -- China has mapped out its non-ferrous metals needs through to the end of the decade, projecting that while annual growth rates for demand may slow as the economy shifts gears, the world’s largest user is still expected to need far greater volumes than at present.

Demand for ten metals, including copper, aluminum and zinc, will rise at an average rate of 4.1 percent a year from 2016 to 2020, compared with 10 percent in the prior five years, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a five-year development plan posted on its website on Wednesday. Copper consumption is seen at 13.5 million tons in 2020, 18 percent more than last year, according to the ministry.

China 2015 ProductionChina 2015
Apparent Demand
Annual Growth
2011-2015 %
China 2020
China 2020 Apparent
Annual Growth
2016-2020 %

Growth in Asia’s largest economy stabilized in the third quarter at 6.7 percent, according to data on Wednesday. The economy is entering a new normal in which demand growth for metals will slow to a medium-low pace from high-speed, the ministry said. “But demand will still grow, supported by new industries such as lightweight transportation, the upgrading of rural power grids, and new energy vehicles,” it added.

Refined-copper consumption is forecast to expand at an average of 3.3 percent a year through to 2020, versus 8.9 percent in 2011-2015, it said. Aluminum demand will grow 5.2 percent a year to 40 million tons in 2020, down from annual growth of 14 percent, it said. Zinc use is seen rising 1.7 percent a year to 7.3 million tons by 2020, from 3.5 percent.

Metals have recovered this year as China’s economy stabilized and shortages emerged in some raw materials after mine closures. The LMEX Index, a gauge of the six main base metals including copper, has advanced 8.6 percent in 2016, rebounding from a three-year losing run.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Winnie Zhu in Shanghai at, Martin Ritchie in Shanghai at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at, Jake Lloyd-Smith

With assistance from Martin Ritchie, Winnie Zhu