Demand for copper could double in the next 30 years

December 4, 2020

The world’s largest mining company said the global drive toward decarbonization and electrification will lead to increased demand for copper.

Tariq Salaria, vice president for sales and marketing at BHP, said his company expects demand for copper will double in the next 30 years. Copper is widely used in power and construction sectors and it will likely benefit as global trends push of more electrification in areas such as transportation and haulage as well as renewable energy.

“Decarbonisation and electrification are the main drivers for the future of metals commodities, delivering on the commitment of moves towards a low-carbon economy,” Tariq Salaria, vice president for sales and marketing at BHP, said.

“To keep pace with these mega trends, copper production will have to double over the next 30 years,” he said in a video broadcast at the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Chain conference in Shanghai.

“Copper has become synonymous with a low-carbon economy,” he added, while calling for more Chinese participants in the Copper Mark sustainability initiative. BHP signed up for the group in November.

Reuters reported thed Salaria also criticized the annual benchmark mechanism for copper concentrate treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs), usually agreed in November by a leading miner and a Chinese smelter, saying it “contributed to long periods of over-capacity and excess margins flowing to intermediaries."

This year’s TC/RCs negotiations - held via video conferencing - have run into December following disagreement on where the 2021 benchmark should be.

“Distortions in the pricing mechanism result in smelters in the highest-cost regions continuing to scratch out an existence, while the more modern, efficient operators find margins squeezed over long periods of time,” Salaria said.

Updating the mechanism will address low smelter margins and excess margins for traders, he added, “benefiting those that transform copper, while providing the final consumer the reassurance that copper contained is produced using the latest modern smelting techniques.”



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