SANTIAGO (Reuters) – In 2017, the world’s largest copper producer – Chile’s Codelco – announced a plan to sell “green copper” at a premium price to customers using more sustainable practices like renewable energy and recycled water to cut its carbon footprint.
The project has run aground however, Codelco insiders and an executive said, as the miner realized it would struggle to guarantee its copper’s sustainability once it left the mine to be melted down and taken to market. Without that, traders said, higher prices were unjustifiable.
Now, the world’s largest miner of the prized red metal told Reuters it would drop the “green copper” plan piloted in one of its smaller mines in favor of a broader initiative to make its product more sustainable.
The move by the influential copper giant could, if successful, pave the way for more significant industry-wide sustainability standards for the historically high-polluting copper mining trade, analysts said.
But the failure with more ambitious “green copper” also represents something of a setback for Codelco, which is already struggling with aging mines and lower copper prices due to the U.S.-China trade war.