The North of 60 Mining area hosts billions of pounds of copper ready to be delivered to a world craving this metal in sky-high demand for wiring the electric vehicles and renewable energy infrastructure that would enable the envisioned low-carbon future. Whether enough of these copper-rich projects are developed in time to circumvent a short circuit of the clean energy transition remains to be seen.
Global Market analysts such as S&P Global have predicted that copper production will need to double by 2035 to meet demands driven by global net-zero emission goals. This means that even if every current copper mine was still producing at today’s capacity in 12 years, enough new mines would need to come online to match that production – both highly unlikely scenarios.
In its best-case scenario, S&P Global estimates that annual production from global mines will be 1.6 million metric tons (3.5 billion pounds) short of meeting copper demands in 2035. In its most pessimistic view, this copper shortage is a staggering 9.9 million metric tons (21.8 billion lb).
“The challenge is that if current trends continue … there’s a huge gap,” S&P Global Vice Chair Daniel Yergin said upon the release of the copper analysis. “And even if you put on your roller skates and your jet burner [to realize optimistic supply growth], and everything goes right, there’s still a gap, because it’s enormous. And it’s important to recognize that now, not in 2035.”
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