World top copper producer Chile expects a moderate increase in the annual average price of the metal through the remainder of 2017, but that would not be enough to push it above $3 a pound for the entire year, Mining Minister Aurora Williams said on Wednesday.

The price of copper has risen dramatically in recent months on strong demand from China, the top consumer of the metal. The sharp increase bodes well for the South American nation, where depending on prices copper-related activity can account for up to 15 percent of gross domestic product.

The Chilean Copper Commission predicted an average price of $2.64 per pound for the year, slightly below the average to date of $2.71 per pound.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was bid down 0.4 percent at $6,735 a tonne ($3.05 per pound) on Wednesday.

“The (spot) prices that we’re seeing today over $3 per pound are not necessarily sustainable in the medium term,” Williams said.

Copper exports reached $3.18 billion in September, their highest level in nearly three years, according to Chile’s Central Bank.

(Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by W Simon)

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