China push into solar, wind power to heat up global copper markets
* China turning to renewable energy in its 'war on pollution'
* Will be boost for copper producers battling low prices
* Copper is used in solar panels, wind turbines, electric cars
* Could add 2 pct to global copper consumption over next 5 yrs
By Melanie Burton
MELBOURNE, Sept 17 (Reuters) - As China's slowdown hits demand for metals in traditional sectors such as housing and heavy industry, copper is being offered a lifeline: massive plans to expand solar and wind power in the world's second-biggest economy.
Beijing's push into renewables as it looks to tackle the pollution that has choked its cities is set to be a vital new source of demand for copper, which as the world's most conductive base metal is used in cables for solar panels and parts for wind turbines.
Reuters calculations based on government and industry projections for the growth of cleaner energy in China suggest that demand from the sector could boost global copper consumption by around 2 million tonnes, or about 2 percent, over the rest of the decade.
That is a rare piece of good news for major producers such as London-listed Glencore and U.S.-based Freeport-McMoRan Inc, which have announced output cuts in the past month as prices fester near six-year lows, hit by tepid demand and ample supply. Continuación...