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Chileans lift copper price forecast for 2018 as China grows

Santiago — Chileans have lifted their forecasts for the copper price over the next12 months on expectations that stronger growth from China will support demand.

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A survey of 11 market experts this month by the Chilean Copper Commissiongave an average price of $2.92/lb for 2018.

That compares to a forecast of $2.60/lb for 2017 in the previous surveyreleased in May.

"Analysts attributed the improved price outlook to stronger demand fromChina, due to higher-than-expected GDP growth in the first half of the year,"Cochilco said in a statement Thursday.

The forecast is one shared by Chile's state mining company Codelco, CEONelson Pizarro said Thursday.

"I fully believe that current price levels are completely sustainable andsustain current operations relatively well as long as our costs don't shootup," he said.

Last month, Cochilco forecast that the copper price would average just$2.68/lb next year -- significantly below the current price which has soaredto three-year highs of above $3/lb.

Cochilco head Sergio Hernandez noted that China's real estate market, amajor consumer of the red metal, was continuing to grow by two digits in thecountry's largest cities despite lending restrictions on the sector.

"We forecast that copper demand will grow by around 2% in China nextyear," the official said.

--Tom Azzopardi,

--Edited by Irene Tang,