China to become world’s main consumer of base metals by 2017

BEIJING (Oct 18)  China is posed to become the world’s main consumer of base metals by 2017, reveals to the latest report by energy and metals analysis firm Wood Mackenzie.

The Asian giant will account for 52% of base metals demand in less than four years, compared with 46% of the 96 million tonnes (Mt) global base metals market it currently demands.

Wood Mackenzie says the outlook for Chinese base metals demand is slower, not lower.

“While China’s lower GDP targets are reflected in lower demand growth for base metals on a percentage basis over the next five years versus the last half decade (…) China will maintain its dominance,” the research firm says.

Head of Base Metals Markets for the firm, Helen Matthews, explains that their forecasts for the next five years show that aluminum, copper, lead, nickel and zinc demand growth will come predominately from China.

“Demand growth has slowed from the double digits we saw from 2008 to 2013 to single digits – ranging from five to eight percent – however, it’s important to note that in absolute tonnage terms we still see significant numbers,” she adds.

“[The world], excluding China, accounts for 54% of the current global base metals market however, as we’re seeing with many other commodities, China’s rampant appetite will overtake the rest of the World, growing to 52% of demand in a 117Mt market, ” Matthews notes.

Continued urbanization and rising domestic wealth are the key drivers of the expected surge in demand from China, Wood Mackenzie’s report says.

The firm predicts global base metals market will grow from 96Mt in 2013 to 122 Mt in 2018, with a huge shift set to occur in 2017.