Copper ore becomes high grade copper concentrate after dressing; through smelting, copper concentrate becomes refined copper and copper products. Copper applied in industries can be mainly classified into electrolytic copper (copper content:99.9%~99.95%) and refined copper (copper content:99.0%~99.7%). The former is used in appliance industries for manufacturing special alloys, metal wires and electrical wires. The latter is used for manufacturing other alloys, copper pipes, copper plates, axis, etc.
According to CRI, China’s manufacturing industries develop fast after entering WTO. Demand for electrolytic copper is daily increasing, which promote the production capacity and output volume of electrolytic copper. By the end of 2106, the production capacity of refined copper was 10.80 million tons, twice that in 2006. The big growth in the smelting production capacity drives the production volume of electrolytic copper in the country. The output volume of electrolytic copper grew from2.925 million tons in 2006 to 8.436 million tons in 2016, with the CAGR reaching 11.2% during 2006-2016.
According to CRI, China largely relies on raw material import as the largest consumer of copper. The copper import volume increases fast in recent years. However, the degree of self-support of electrolytic copper keeps growing as well. Different from other metal smelting industries, the production capacity of copper smelting is not in surplus. Actually, the supply does not meet the demand. Electrolytic copper is largely imported to meet the domestic demand. According to data from General Administration of Customs of China, in 2016, China imported about 3.629 million tons of refined copper, double the data in 2008, which is slightly lower than that in 2015.
With the profit margin of electrolytic copper smelting industry increasing and fixed asset investment encouraged by local governments, the production capacity of copper smelting expands quickly, which raise the degree of self-support of electrolytic copper.