By 2015, China will need half world’s resources
WITHIN a decade China’s booming economy will be consuming more than half of the world’s key resources, according to Rio Tinto. The rapid industrialisation of China’s economy means that this consumption is likely to lead to clashes with other countries.
Rio Tinto, the world’s second-largest miner, said last week that China already accounted for 47 per cent of all iron ore consumption, 32 per cent of aluminium and 25 per cent of copper.
Tom Albanese, Rio’s chief executive, has predicted that within the next couple of years this will move to 58 per cent of all iron ore, 45 per cent of aluminium and a third of all copper. Even with the assumption that the current growth intensity will slow, we are looking at China consuming a higher percentage of global supply,’’ he said.
Vivek Tulpule, Rio’s chief economist, said that with China likely to consume more than half of the world’s key resources within a decade, political concerns would be raised as the country seeks to control access.
In 1990 China accounted for only about 5 per cent of all copper demand, and 3 per cent of aluminium and iron ore. Now the country is already the largest buyer of nickel, copper, aluminium, steel, coal and iron ore. Only in oil does it lag, coming second to the US.
By 2015, China will be consuming nearly a billion tonnes of iron ore a year. To meet this demand, large mining companies are ramping up production in areas such as Western Australia’s Pilbara region, which is geographically one of the closest ore deposits to China.
Rio Tinto expects to increase its production in the Pilbara from 160 million tonnes a year to 320 million by 2013. BHP Billiton, the world’s largest miner, hopes to achieve 300 million tonnes by 2015. Tulpule said: The US’s consumption of the key metals has been going backwards while China has continued to grow. Its share of global demand will continue to rise until about 2020 when other economies like India start to challenge.’’ The Times
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