S&P Global forecasts surging worldwide demand for copper through 2035July 20, 2022
North America’s transition to electric vehicles (EVs), renewable energy hangs in the balance
By Stuart McDonald
President & CEO, Taseko Mines
On July 14, 2022, noted market intelligence experts at S&P Global published a landmark study on copper and the critical role it will play in helping transition the United States and the world to a low-carbon future.
Entitled, ‘The Future of Copper: Will the looming supply gap short-circuit the energy transition?’, the S&P Global report was co-sponsored by Taseko and a consortium of 14 global copper companies. In addition to predicting a doubling of worldwide copper demand by 2035, the experts at S&P Global warn that unprecedented copper supply shortfalls could develop in the years ahead that will have serious consequences for the global economy, and even threaten efforts to combat climate change.
“It really is a remarkable study and it comes at an important time in our history,” said Taseko President & CEO Stuart McDonald. “With global supply chains continuing to struggle, and commodity disruptions associated with the war in Ukraine afflicting countries around the world, it has become abundantly clear how susceptible our society is to economic shocks and environmental consequences associated with the availability and supply of key materials.”
The potential for copper shortages to occur in the years ahead will be particularly harmful to the United States’ efforts to achieve net-zero by 2050. In its Long-Term Strategy of the United States: Pathways to Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050, published in November 2021, the U.S lays out specific goals to limit its carbon emissions and contribution to global warming – including achieving 100% decarbonized energy by 2035 and 50% light-duty EV sales by 2030.
McDonald noted that copper is an irreplaceable metal for many electrification and clean energy applications.
“As the U.S. advances toward its goal of net-zero by 2050, it must increase the domestic production of environmentally sound, socially responsible copper from projects like Taseko’s Florence Copper in Arizona,” he said. “At the same time, it must address a growing reliance on foreign producers for a broad range of critical metals, including copper.”
Key findings from ‘The Future of Copper’ study include:
- Worldwide copper demand is forecast to grow from 25 million metric tons (MMt) in 2021 to 50 MMt by 2035, a record-high level that will continue to rise to 53 MMt by 2050.
- Copper supply shortfalls are predicted to begin in 2025 and persist through most of the following decade. The worldwide copper supply gap could reach an unprecedented 9.9 MMt by 2035.
- Copper scarcity may emerge as a key destabilizing threat to international security, and place unprecedented strains on global supply chains.
- Domestic copper production accounts for about half of U.S. requirements today. By 2035, the country is expected to rely on foreign producers for 57 - 67% of its annual copper needs.
Taseko will continue to highlight key findings from S&P Global’s landmark The Future of Copper study in the weeks ahead. Readers can access the full report at The future of Copper in the Energy Transition | IHS Markit.