Meeting the metals mining shortfall – by Wilson Monteiro (Canadian Mining Journal – May 3, 2024)

Moving away from fossil fuels to meet essential global carbon reduction targets means mining for metals and minerals will need to increase significantly over the coming years. Electric vehicles, wind turbines, solar panels, and overall electrification are all areas of increased demand, meaning metals like copper, iron, and zinc will be continuously required.

How the need for more metals will be met with our current infrastructure is uncertain. Taking copper as an example, production is predicted to reach a crisis point by 2030 with an annual deficit of five million tonnes. Stemming from a surge in demand driven by the exponential growth in electric vehicles and a myriad of other electrification applications, surpassing current production capacity, this is an alarming prognosis that would ultimately impede global sustainability goals.

Demand for refined copper to meet global decarbonization efforts is poised to nearly triple by 2050, compared to the 2020 production levels. This means the world is challenged with sustaining an annual increase in copper production of between 20% to 30% within the next seven years ― that is a capacity on par with the current outputs of major producers Chile and Peru combined.

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