Monday, March 22, 2021

"The World Will Need 10 Million Tons More Copper to Meet Demand"

Via the Financial Post, March 19:

Within a decade, the world may face a massive shortfall of what’s arguably the most critical metal for global economies: copper.

The copper industry needs to spend upwards of $100 billion to close what could be an annual supply deficit of 4.7 million metric tons by 2030 as the clean power and transport sectors take off, according to estimates from CRU Group. The potential shortfall could reach 10 million tons if no mines get built, according to commodities trader Trafigura Group. Closing such a gap would require building the equivalent of eight projects the size of BHP Group’s giant Escondida in Chile, the world’s largest copper mine.

Used in everything from wiring and pipes to batteries and motors, copper is both an economic bellwether and a key ingredient in the push toward renewable power and electric vehicles. If producers fail to address the deficit, prices will keep rising and present a challenge to the Biden administration and other world leaders counting on a worldwide energy transition to fight climate change.

Higher copper prices may lead to more recycling and substitution with cheaper alternatives such as aluminum, which could ease shortfalls.

To be sure, copper projects are in the pipeline. But producers are wary of repeating oversupply mistakes of past cycles by accelerating plans at a time that mines are getting a lot trickier and pricier to build — one reason why copper prices are near decade highs at above $4 a pound....