Rio Sees Rising Copper Shortage on Emerging-Market Demand

Rio Tinto Group expects copper demand in China and emerging countries to grow faster than mine output, as more people in developing nations buy cars and homes.

A global shortage of the metal used in pipes and wires may widen this year to between 400,000 and 500,000 metric tons, Andrew Harding, head of Rio Tinto’s copper business, said today in an interview in Santiago.

"You’ve got this very strong demand in the long term being driven by China," Harding said. "And the supply side is not going to respond with the speed to match that."

Copper rose the most in two weeks today as Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., the world’s largest publicly traded producer, said that demand in China, the world’s biggest user of industrial metals, will continue to increase.

Copper futures for May delivery gained 10.75 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $4.3720 a pound at 12:57 p.m. on the Comex in New York, heading for the biggest gain for a most-active contract since March 23.

“In the long run, we are very confident about the outlook for copper demand in China,” Richard Adkerson, the chief executive officer of Phoenix-based Freeport, said yesterday in an interview in Santiago.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Craze in Santiago at mcraze@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts in Buenos Aires at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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