* China's copper consumption remains robust, says official
* Freeport still in talks with Indonesian government over
By Manolo Serapio Jr
SINGAPORE, March 19 China's copper consumption
will grow for "more than a decade" as demand from the world's
top user remains robust despite fears of an economic slowdown, a
Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc executive said on
Worries over slower growth in China, which accounts for 40
percent of global copper consumption, helped send prices of the
industrial metal to a 44-month low last week, down 12 percent
Still, the long-term outlook remained solid, said Freeport's
Javier Targhetta, senior vice president for marketing and sales.
"We are seeing still robust consumption in China. Of course
there can be hiccups here and there," Targhetta told Reuters on
the sidelines of an industry conference. "I think Chinese
consumption of copper will keep growing for more than a decade."
He expected China's import volumes to remain brisk even if
its gross domestic product expansion slows to 3-4 percent, while
a recovery in the U.S. and European economies should also copper
"Copper is increasingly needed both in mature and emerging
economies," he said.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was
trading at $6,470 a tonne on Wednesday, regaining some ground
after hitting $6,376.25 last week, its lowest since July 2010.
Freeport, which operates the world's fifth largest copper
mine in Indonesia, halted copper concentrate exports in
mid-January over a dispute with the Indonesian government on a
"We are cooperating with the Indonesian government looking
for a mutually beneficial outcome of the current situation. We
hope to have it resolved soon," Targhetta said.
Freeport and fellow U.S. miner Newmont Mining Corp
have refused to pay an escalating export tax introduced on Jan.
12 as part of package of new mining rules aimed at forcing
miners to build smelters and process raw materials in Indonesia.
Targhetta said the company's Grasberg mine is producing at
half of its capacity, but has not cut any jobs so far.
A union official said earlier this month that production at
Freeport Indonesia was cut by around 60 percent. Freeport in
February said it may need to declare force majeure on copper
concentrate sales at its Grasberg mine.
(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Richard Pullin)