Domestic production of copper concentrate totalled 582,545 t in 2003, 0.2% lower than in 2002. Production of refined copper during the first 11 months was 1.63 Mt, a 12,2% increase form 2002.
There were five copper producers with individual production exceeding 100 000 t in 2003, and their output accounted for an estimated 59% of total domestic production. Imports of copper concentrates increased by 29% to 2.67 Mt and refined copper increased by 15% to 1.36 Mt and exports decreased by 15.9% to 64,400 t.
In 2003 China surpassed the USA to become the world's largest copper consumer with total copper consumption estimated at 2.9 Mt in 2003, an 11.5% increase from 2002. China currently accounts for 22% of global demand in copper and in 2005 consumption had reached to 3,61m tonnes. Owing to China's massive economic boom, construction in the country's major cities have undergone rapid expansion, and this has led to a major increase in electricity generation, transmission and distribution, fuelling China's copper consumption.
Output of refined copper by Jiangxi Copper Corp, China's leading producer, reached 342,000 t, an increase of 48% from 2002. Tongling Non-Ferrous Metals Group ranked second, with 337,300 t, an increase of 10% compared to 2002. The other main producers are Yunnan Copper, with 187,100 t, Daye Non-ferrous Metals Co with 118,900 t and Jinchuan Group Ltd with 102,800 t. Jinchuan has increased its rate of investment to boost copper production to 250,000 t/y by 2006. It also announced at the end of 2003 that it was seeking potential backeres to participate in several downstream copper projects, including the installation of a 100,000 t/y facility for the productio of copper rod, a separate plant for the production of 4,000 t/y of condenser tubes and a thirs project for the construction of a line to produce 30,000 t/y of copper plate.
In November 2003, six of China's largest copper smelters with a combined capacity of 1.2 Mt/y formed a purchase union. The smelters have stated that they are likely to cut production in 2004 in response to low treatment and refining charges and a lack of raw materials. As one of the four reserved mines in China the largest copper production-line-project in Qinghai Province, the Saishitang copper mining project was completed during 2003 and started producing in August 2004. The project was a joint venture between WMC Resources Ltd, Qighai Jinxing Mining Fund Ltd, Hainan Tibet Economic Cooperative Corp and Qighai Mining Group Ltd.