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Global copper markets should remain stable, says Chilean mining minister

An excavator is used at the bottom of Congolese state mining company Gecamines' Kamfundwa open pit copper mine on Jan. 31, 2013.

Jonny Hogg/Reuters

Global copper markets should remain stable in the medium term, Chile's mining minister Hernan de Solminihac said on Monday, and the commodities super-cycle that powered prices for the red metal to records in 2011 is not over.

"The fundamentals of the copper market, in the medium term, are relatively stable, notwithstanding special circumstances occurring in the various economies around the world," Mr. De Solminihac said in an interview on the sidelines of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto.

Chile is the world's largest producer of copper, the red industrial metal that has fueled sustained massive infrastructure growth in China over the past decade. The metal is used in everything from electric cables and wires to plumbing, heating and even clothing.

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The Chilean state has one of the most unobstructed views into copper markets, and China especially, by virtue of operating Codelco, one of the world's largest producers of the metal and a key supplier to Asian markets.

"We have to be conscious of the ebbs and flows of the European economy, obviously the United States and at certain moments China, but we believe that supply and demand will remain within a relatively close range, at times a little more and at times a little less," said Mr. De Solminihac.

He added Chile has official forecasts for the copper price to average $3.57 a pound in 2013, down from $3.62 a pound in 2012 and $3.99 a pound the year before that, when prices hit all-time highs above $4.50.

On Monday, copper was trading at $3.51 a pound.

"We are in an upward super cycle in general," he said.

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Mining Reporter

Pav Jordan is a mining reporter for the Report on Business. More

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