Copper supply crunch earlier than predicted — experts – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – April 10, 2018)

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Copper demand will surpass supply earlier than expected, with the first clear signs coming as early as next year, experts attending the 17th World’s Copper Conference being held this week in Santiago, Chile, said.

According to Arnaud Soirat, chef executive for copper and diamonds at Rio Tinto, increased consumption from new technologies, including electric vehicles, will drive demand for the metal and its by-products, he said.

“We anticipate global market supply and demand will keep close to balance in 2019 and 2020,” he said, noting that after that the deficit will become increasingly evident.

The outlook is widely shared by other experts, including CRU analyst Hamish Sampson. According to him, unless new investments arise, existing mine production will drop from 20 million tonnes to below 12 million tonnes by 2034, leading to a supply shortfall of more than 15 million tonnes.

The situation looks even worse when considering that over 200 copper mines currently in operations will reach the end of their productive life before 2035, Sampson said on Monday.

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