SANTIAGO (Reuters) - The global salmon farming industry could need up to 50,000 tonnes of copper a year to build rearing cages thanks to the metal's anti-bacterial qualities, Diego Hernandez, CEO of state mining giant Codelco, said on Monday.
Chile's salmon-farming sector is still recovering from the ravages of a virus that hammered output, though the industry has yet to widely introduce copper cages. Salmon is one of Chile's main exports after copper, fruit and wood pulp.
"This can start with 30,000 to 50,000 tonnes a year and go up a little more," Hernandez told reporters. World No.1 producer Codelco is seeking to encourage new uses of the metal.
Hernandez has previously said he also foresees potentially hundreds of thousands of tonnes in future demand for uses of copper in hospitals, again for its anti-bacterial qualities.
Electric cars and wind farm towers are seen boosting demand in the nearer term.
(Reporting by Fabian Cambero. Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by David Gregorio)