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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Middle East & Asia: March 22nd 2006


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:: New China Copper Smelter on Fast Track

Construction of a new copper smelter in China's Shandong province was being fast-tracked for completion by the end of this year to meet growing demand for industrial metals, said minerals giant Rio Tinto. "As China's industrial output soars and more than a billion people participate in a transformation of their living standards, the demand for the metals and minerals we produce has expanded rapidly," Rio Tinto Chief Executive Leigh Clifford said in the company's annual report, released on Monday.

The smelter is being built by Outokumpu of Finland for China's Yanggu Xiangguang Copper Co. and will initially yield 200 000 tonnes of cathodes annually, eventually rising to 400 000 a year. The design - aimed at greatly reducing harmful emissions associated with smelting - is partially based on Rio Tinto's technology employed at its Kennecott smelter in the United States, and from which Rio will earn a licensing fee.

Some 2,05-million tons of smelting capacity was planned or under construction in China and capacity would rise to 3,7-million tons by the end of 2007, according to a report on the State Development and Reform Commission Web site.

Beijing has repeatedly warned that rising smelting capacity in the copper industry could put pressure on supplies of raw material copper concentrate. China produces about a third of its copper concentrate.




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