YERINGTON, Nev. (Reuters) – Once seen as a laggard in the global mining industry, U.S. copper deposits have quietly drawn more than $1.1 billion in investments from small and large miners alike as Tesla and other electric carmakers scramble for more of the red metal.
Four U.S. copper projects are set to open by next year – the first to come online in more than a decade – with several mine expansions also underway across the country, home to the world’s fifth-largest copper reserves, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The rising popularity of electric vehicles – which use twice as much copper as internal combustion engines – and increasingly pro-mining policies in the U.S. while other nations exert greater control over their mineral deposits are fueling the spending, according to mining executives and investors.
“Fifteen years ago, U.S. mining was thought to be a dead industry, but now it’s a profitable area for us,” said Richard Adkerson, chief executive of Freeport-McMoran Inc (FCX.N).
The Phoenix-based miner, which last month relinquished majority control of the world’s second-largest copper mine under pressure from the Indonesian government even though it will remain the project’s operator, is set to open a $850 million expansion of one of its Arizona copper mines next year.
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