Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Where's the copper to come from to meet future demand?

Mineweb reports (click on heading above for full article) that a shortage of copper will surely develope as the world recovers. Excerpts from the article appear below.

According to Robert Friedland we need to mine as much copper in the next 20 years as we have in the past 110 - where is this copper to come from?

Author: Lawrence Williams
Posted: Monday , 09 Aug 2010


"We need more copper in the next 20 years than was mined in the last 110 years," Ivanhoe Chairman Robert Friedland is reported as saying at the Diggers and Dealers conference in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, last week. "Those of us in the business don't have any idea where this metal is going to come from."

Now Friedland, whose Ivanhoe Mines still controls the huge Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project in Mongolia which is being developed in conjunction with Rio Tinto, may be talking from a biased viewpoint, but he has a point. Once economies recover, even if slowly, copper in particular may well find itself in a major demand squeeze.

But, it's unlikely to be a smooth ride for copper ahead, whatever the longer term prospects may suggest. Price performance so far this year has been, to say the least, pretty volatile and this pattern is likely to continue as positive, and negative, assessments continue to be made on the state of the global economy on which the copper market is very dependent. China - and reports on speeding up or slowing down of growth there, will be a major factor, as will speculation and running down, or building up, of inventories.

Copper is also vulnerable to disruptions - particularly when the price rises and the copper miners are seen as making excessive profits.

Political disruptions may also occur as new mine development moves into countries where political stability is more suspect.

Growth in global copper requirements is almost assured though as it is very much an ‘infrastructure' dependent metal and growth aspirations of countries like China, India and the BRIC economies - and virtually all developing nations - where aspirations for Western-type wealth and consumerism is forcing unprecedented levels of global growth. This too will impact other metals and minerals, but few quite so heavily as copper. The future for the red metal looks strong - but will we be able, as Friedland suggested, to supply the world's requirements over the next 20 years

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