Why Electric Cars Excite the World’s Biggest Mining Company – by Chisaki Watanabe (Bloomberg News – November 1, 2016)


BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest miner, is hot for electric vehicles. The Melbourne-based resources giant, which mines metals and coal used for both steelmaking and fueling power plants, is increasingly optimistic that there’ll be a surge in demand for some of its products as consumers opt for electric vehicles, or EVs, and other renewable energy technologies.

“As you see more renewables and EVs, we also will see an impact on copper demand,” Fiona Wild, BHP’s vice president, sustainability and climate change, said Tuesday at a conference in Shanghai hosted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“EVs at the moment have about 80 kilograms of copper in them. As they become more efficient, you see a greater amount of copper in those vehicles, so there’s always upside for copper.”

One million EVs were sold between 2010 and 2015, largely driven by regulatory mandates in important auto markets including the US, China and Europe, BNEF said last month. By 2020, about 2.2 million EVs will be sold globally, up from 460,000 expected in 2016, according to the research company. Electric vehicles require a lot more copper wiring than standard internal combustion engines.

Copper is the poorest performer this year on the London Metal Exchange, with a gain of just 4 percent, compared with more than 54 percent for zinc. The metal is suffering amid a surge in supply this year, as demand slows in China.

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