The copper gap: According to a study from S&P Global, even in the most optimistic scenario, much needs to be done for copper supply to meet upcoming demand – by Matthew Parizot (CIM Magazine – November 08, 2022)

Copper has an outstanding importance in the race to reach net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Massive amounts of copper will be required to wire the technologies needed to transition the world away from fossil fuels but, according to a report released by S&P Global titled “The Future of Copper,” the supply gap created by the increasing demand for the critical mineral might be too wide to fill.

According to the study, copper demand is expected to grow from 25 million tonnes in 2022 to 50 million tonnes by 2035. This could lead to a potential supply gap as large as 9.9 million tonnes, 20 per cent of the required copper to meet the energy transition goals. Electric vehicles, solar power, wind power, all require copper to function.

“What really causes this is a whole slew of new technologies landing on top of the other standard, or traditional, end markets, which is going to require during the next 13 years a tremendous amount of copper… and those energy technologies are just starting right now,” said Mohsen Bonakdarpour, executive director, economics and country risk at S&P Global Market Intelligence and project director of the study.

The study proposed two scenarios: a “High Ambition Scenario” that sees mine capacity utilization and recycling rates increasing through 2035, and a “Rocky Road Scenario” that sees mine capacity utilization holding constant at 84.1 per cent (the global average capacity utilization between 2012 and 2021) through to 2050, as well as a steady recycling rate of 17 per cent.

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