According to global mining giant Rio Tinto, the global demand for refined copper is going to soar over the next decade. The demand for copper by 2020 will rise by close to 40% to 27 million tonnes as per the country director of Rio Tinto in Mongolia, Cameron McRae.
He is also the chief executive of the Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia, a huge gold and copper mine under development. The company owns a 48.5% stake in Canadian company Ivanhoe Mines which owns 66% of the gold and copper project at Oyu Tolgoi.
The remaining 34% of the project is owned by the Mongolian government. Local politicians have been pressuring the government to increase a stake in the mine which is said to have an approximate life span of 100 years. Once it begins production it will be amongst the 10 largest producers of copper and gold in the world.
The construction of the mine accounts for close to 30 per cent of the nation's gross domestic product of Mongolia. The Oyu Tolgoi project is forecast to start commercial production in the first half of 2013 and is expected to be able to produce 450,000t of copper and 330,000 troy ounces of gold annually.
Cameron McRae said that there was significant scope for demand growth over the medium to long term for copper as China and India continue to grow. He added that China is forecast to build between four million and five million new buildings between 2005 and 2025 as it continues to undergo fast-paced urbanisation.