China’s Xiangguang Copper completed an expansion in April that has lifted annual refining capacity up 70 percent to 600,000 tonnes, a company manager said on Friday.

Before the expansion Xiangguang Copper, the biggest privately held copper smelter in China, had 350,000 tonnes of refining capacity, including a 100,000 tonne a year plant that uses scrap as feed and was built in 2010 in the northeastern province of Shandong.

Xiangguang produced about 220,000 tonnes of refined copper in 2010.

But the newly built 250,000 tonnes of capacity may not run at full rates until the third quarter of this year because the firm needs time to adjust the facility, the manager, who declined to be named said.

“The new facility is operating on a trial run,” he said.

The firm’s parent, Shandong Fengxiang Group, is a major chicken producer in the country.

State-backed research firm Antaike has estimated China would add 600,000 tonnes of designed copper smelting capacity to 4.07 million tonnes this year, which would need roughly 1.8 million tonnes of concentrate, nearly 30 percent of imports in 2010.