Copper demand may exceed supply in 2011 for the first time in four years as ore grades decline while China sustains purchases.

Pan Pacific Copper general manager of marketing Hidenori Kamoo said supplies will not catch up with demand next year and it is expected to have a deficit of 200,000t, reports Bloomberg.

Copper demand is expected to exceed supply by 132,000t in 2011 and by 386,000t next year.

However, copper producers are expected to cut output this year due to lower grades of ore, falling processing fees and tight supplies of scrap.

Pan Pacific will have a 7% output cut in its annual capacity from April to September while Sumitomo Metal Mining expects a 10% output cut in the year started 1 April, reports Bloomberg.

China, the world’s biggest copper consumer, imported 1.6 million tons of refined copper in the first half of 2010.