Reuters reported that Chinese copper smelters are looking to make more investments in mines, pushing to shore up supply of concentrate at a time when competition for the raw material is heating up. Industry executives said that China is the world’s biggest consumer of the metal but its own copper mine production has been stagnating amid a broad crackdown on pollution, exacerbating a heavy reliance on imports. More direct tie-ups with mines would diversify smelters‘ sources of supply, as well as potentially giving them more sway in annual supply negotiations with large global miners such as BHP and Freeport-McMoRan Inc. Taking a stake in a miner or offering capital in return for supply could also eat into the business of global trading houses. Mr Xu Yuanfeng, general manager of the trading business unit of Jiangxi Copper Co , one of China’s biggest copper smelters said that „In terms of strategic planning for the future … I think our focus would be on shares in the capital of the upstream companies. We are going to work with copper mines and funds so we can secure our own supply.” Mr Xu said that “Jiangxi Copper is signing more contracts to source concentrate from miners directly, while the „proportion of our contracts with traders is going down. Our supply of copper concentrate is … being strained in terms of lower grades and greater demand from our smelting business, but we are looking to improve our supply structure, for example (using more) scrap, so we don’t have to depend so much on concentrate.“