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UPDATE 1-Chile's Codelco sees copper demand rising, prices strong for 3-4 years -chairman

(Adds comments by Codelco chairman, industry background)

SANTIAGO, March 12 (Reuters) - Chile’s Codelco, the world’s top copper producer, sees demand for copper continuing to rise through the next three to four years, and believes the price of the red metal is likely to hover at $3 or more per pound, board chairman Juan Benavides said on Friday.

The price of copper has spiked to decade-long highs in recent weeks as a nascent global economic recovery has prompted demand to boom for the commodity, used in construction and manufacturing.

“More or less during the next three-four years, demand will grow in the order of 2-3% per year, and the supply will grow at the same time by 2-3% per year,” said Benavides in an online Fastmarkets seminar.

Benavides signaled that the tight market would likely hold prices at around $3 or more per pound during that same period.

“In general we see a good market for copper, the fundamentals are very healthy,” he said.

State-owned Codelco has previously called the latest price spike a “good opportunity” to generate cash for investments, but warned it could drive up costs from goods and service providers.

The company fared well through the coronavirus pandemic, maintaining both output and sales even as it was forced to reduce staffing levels at its sprawling Chilean mines.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero in Santiago Writing by Dave Sherwood Editing by Matthew Lewis

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