BEIJING (Commodity Online): Even though China stockpiled huge quantity of copper in 2009, the country is still short of the metal as it has chartered its growth path for the coming years with a lot of construction activities.

Analysts suggested that most of the copper that China imported last year has already been converted into semi manufactured products. By the end of the year, China was working through pre existing stockpiles as well. That is pretty remarkable, considering that the country imported about 3.2 million tonnes of copper as the government implemented a massive fiscal stimulus program.

Analysts said China is short of intermediate and refined copper products. Even a modest demand growth scenario for 2010 will require a robust restocking event, almost regardless of the constraints on trade posed by China's tightening credit markets.

Analysts backed an imminent lift in China's copper import flows beyond current expectations. Experts predicted a copper price above $3 per pound over the next 3 years before it declines back toward $2.30 per pound in 2015.

Meanwhile, world refined copper production exceeded consumption by 144,000 tonnes between January and November of 2009, more than doubling a market surplus of 58,000 tonnes in the same year-ago period, the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) said.

World refined copper output in January to November was 16.779 million tonnes, while consumption amounted to 16.635 million tonnes.

Global consumption in the first 11 months of the year fell by less than one per cent versus the same period in 2008.