* Comments suggest appetite for refined copper imports could drop
* China is world’s No. 1 user of refined copper
HONG KONG, April 24 (Reuters) - China, the world’s top consumer of metals, could become a net exporter of refined copper in one to two years, said an executive at Minmetals Non-Ferrous Metals Holding Limited.
The comments from the Chinese firm suggest the country’s appetite for buying refined copper from global markets may recede, although it would still need to import copper concentrate.
“We may see in one to two years, China becoming a net exporter ... based on the industry’s condition,” Vice President Xiaoguang Jin told reporters on the sidelines of an industry conference in Hong Kong.
China’s refined copper capacity is now sufficient to cover domestic demand, and the country should also be able to sell its copper output to global markets in future, Jin added.
China is the world’s top user of refined copper, with Jin saying its imports this year would be determined by financing needs.
Given tight credit markets, imports of commodities such as copper are often resold on the domestic market to raise funds for higher yielding investments elsewhere in China.
Reporting by Polly Yam and Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford