SANTIAGO, April 8 (Reuters) - Top copper mining executives have flocked to Santiago to discuss the state of the industry as concerns about oversupply and a credit crisis in China, the world's No. 1 industrial metal user, weigh on prices and sentiment.
The following are some of their comments at the Cesco/CRU event:
On mining challenges in Chile:
"Chile has lost ground in terms of competitiveness. We need to tackle these challenges to efficiently recover our ranking.
Here's a list of challenges we need to take on: The portfolio of mining projects needs certainty in terms of mining permits; legal gaps need to be filled; decisions need to be made about (funding) Codelco's big projects.
In terms of competition, we need to guarantee the availability of water and energy at competitive prices. It's a big list of challenges that we need to take on together. That's our big challenge."
On Chinese growth:
"We think the Chinese economy is fairly solid, it may have some problems, but they're minor. We don't see any reason for there to be a big crisis in China."
On Chinese demand and copper prices:
"There's some uncertainty. We certainly believe that's short-term. The fundamentals for copper are there. The growth in China has been a bit bumpy, but again we believe this is short-term.
We firmly believe in the long term for copper. Short-term, we believe (the price) is going to stay in the current ranges it's currently trading in. We see slight surpluses but nothing that will totally disrupt the market."
On the ring trading:
"We are doing a full review of the ring in consultation with all the players just to validate that that is the reference price that people want to trade against.
(Ring trading) is about as transparent as you can get. So although regulations have not been designed around the market, it does check a lot of the boxes, which is not to say we should keep it the way it is, because at the end of the day it is important that it meets the requirements of everybody."
RIO TINTO CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF COPPER JEAN-SEBASTIEN JACQUES
On the decision on Monday to give away its stake in Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd, owner of Alaska's huge Pebble deposit:
"We looked at all options and concluded that although we remain absolutely committed to Alaska, although we acknowledged there is value in these deposits it does not fit with Rio Tinto's strategy today." (Compiled by Josephine Mason in New York; Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer and Susan Thomas; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)