BHP sees major copper demand boost from China's widening belt and road

LONDON (Reuters) - China’s overseas expansion will spread over land that is home to more than half the world’s population, potentially boosting copper use by 1.6 million tonnes, or roughly 7 percent of annual demand, major miner BHP said on Thursday.

BHP has analysed the impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a network of overseas construction projects, on commodity demand on the basis of a database it constantly updates.

It said China’s overseas expansion plan covered 115 partners across Eurasia, parts of Africa, Latin American and Oceania, up from 68 countries or regions it cited in a previous blog post in September last year.

Its latest analysis estimated the BRI represented one third of the global economy and would drive spending of up to $1.3 trillion over the decade to 2023.

Vicky Binns, BHP’s vice president for minerals marketing, told Reuters if anything the expectation an extra 1.6 million tonnes of refined copper would be needed over the same time period was conservative.

More than 70 percent of that demand is from 100 power projects, which typically are not the biggest source of copper consumption - accounting for between 13 and 22 percent of all copper use depending on the region.

Such initial investment could lead to knock-on demand from other sectors.

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