Last month the hot topic, or metal, in the mining industry was silver, but it appears that now the spotlight is on copper due to the growing demand from green initiatives. A leading metals trader has provided a bullish forecast for the metal, predicting that in 18 months’ time, copper prices could surge above US$12 000/t.1 Despite hitting a nadir in March, the commodity has since doubled in price, reaching a 9-year high, just 7% below the all-time record of US$10 190 set in 2011.
Governments around the world have set forth plans for great electrification of economies, and if they are to follow through, copper prices would need to climb to a whole new level in order to prompt demand substitution and encourage miners to invest in new production.
One world leader who is clearly beginning to put these plans into action is the US President, Joe Biden, who has made a clear commitment to addressing climate change. And any climate change initiative creates demand for copper. In response to the President’s plans to electrify the country’s automobiles and combat climate change, Freeport-McMoRan is set to approve expansions at several of its US copper mines to capitalise on the metal’s surging demand.2 The company already produces more than 1 billion lbs/yr of copper in the US, little of which is exported, and the planned expansions at three of its mines are expected to add more than 25 million lbs/yr to its US output. The US is one of Freeport’s largest markets, and these plans would not only be placing a major bet on the rising demand for electric vehicles (EVs), but also on the US economy itself.2
Similarly, in Peru, Southern Copper Corp. are seeking to push forward several new and pending projects in the mineral-rich Andean nation, as copper prices are on the rise and supply in the country remains tight. These plans are expected to be put into action later this year, after the country’s new presidential administration takes office.3
If you are interested in reading more on exploration activities and the copper industry we have two great articles this month, which explore Castillo Copper’s operations in Queensland, Australia, and Solaris’ activities in Ecuador. These articles start on p. 15 and p. 18, respectively. And if learning more about environmentally-friendly commodities is what you are looking for, you’re in luck as our special report this month is on another high profile commodity: lithium. To read all about how lithium is shaping the green energy and EV markets, turn to p. 10.
As always, we hope you enjoy this issue of Global Mining Review, and, if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to our social media channels to ensure you receive all the latest and up-to-date mining news.
- ‘How high can copper price fly? this metals trader expects $12,000,’ Bloomberg, (25 February 2021), https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-25/copper-s-green-allure-may-boost-prices-to-12-000-concord-says
- ‘Freeport eyes U.S. expansions as Biden’s EV plan boosts copper demand,’ Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-mining-freeport-mcmoran-idUSKBN2AP2CW
- ‘Peru’s Southern Copper to push forward on new projects as copper price spikes,’ Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/peru-copper/perus-southern-copper-to-push-forward-on-new-projects-as-copper-price-spikes-idUSC0N2HP00N