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13-03-2012 09:26:00

Antofagasta CFO: High Probability 2012 Copper Market In Deficit

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By Andrea Hotter

Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The global copper market will likely be in a deficit in 2012 given expectations for supply side disruptions, with prices averaging $3.80-$3.85 a pound, in line with analysts' consensus, Chilean miner Antofagasta PLC (ANTO.LN) said Tuesday.

The U.K.-listed copper firm said that there was a "big probability" of a deficit in 2012 with a number of disruptions already impacting the supply side this year.

"We're seeing demand for copper still growing, despite a slowdown in world gross domestic product growth, but the supply side is not reacting (by rising to meet higher consumption)," Chief Financial Officer Alejandro Rivera told Dow Jones Newswires. "Last year we saw a number of a supply disruptions and we expect 2012 to be similar to 2011," he added.

Rivera said that the financial problems in the euro zone are creating macroeconomic uncertainties including difficulties dealing with banks for project financing, but noted the situation has improved a little of late.

A slowdown in China, the growth engine for copper demand, is also causing some short-term concern but Rivera said Antofagasta remains optimistic in the long-term.

"We're confident there will be an increase in Chinese demand; it may be slowing but it's still growing, so even if it grows at 7.5%, it's still good growth," he added.

-By Andrea Hotter, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0)20 7842 9413; andrea.hotter@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 13, 2012 05:26 ET (09:26 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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