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Copper – will the price become too expensive for industry?

2021 price of copper graph

The Copper industry has experienced a constant attack on its price recently, leading to increasing costs in raw and processed materials. It’s is used in many industrial applications, allowing the world to modernise and future proof our innovations. During the 2000s the price has quadrupled, reflecting the incredible demand for Copper in developments and the broad range of industries the metal is essential to. The worlds urbanisation, rural electrification and expanding car and appliance ownership has resulted in burgeoning consumption. In May 2021, prices climbed to decade highs, hitting over £7,000 per tonne increasing by approximately 18% since the beginning of 2021. As infrastructure, manufacturing and energy transitions continue to grow, analysts have forecasted that demand will rise from approximately 5.6% in 2021 to 15.7% in 2030.

What Industries use Copper?

Copper is most used in building construction, electronic product manufacturing, vehicle production, power generation and transmission, and industrial machinery production. Copper wiring and plumbing are integral to the appliances, such as heating and cooling systems, used every day in homes and businesses. The wide application of this metal opens opportunities for the installation of bespoke metal parts into many future proofing innovation projects, throughout a broad range of industries. From automotive to medical, aerospace to infrastructure, and a strong growing demand from power and energy generation. Leading manufacturing Industries have a strong demand include automotive, medical, electrical, data centres, motor sport, panel builders, switchgear and many more. Nearly half of the whole supply chain makes its way into buildings, where it can be found as electrical and plumbing essentials, such as water pipes or heat pumps. Consumption of Copper is expected to rise for the power and energy industry, as it is estimated by 2050 renewable energy technology could require more than 3 million tonnes of Copper each year.

Why do Industries like Copper so much?

Copper has properties that product designers desire such as being malleable, ductile, a good conductor of heat and electricity, excellent corrosion resistance and machinability. It is an incredibly versatile material and maintains a low electrical and thermal resistance. The efficient properties enable higher currents to be passed through the material. It has a lower electrical resistance, lower power loss, lower voltage drops, and higher amperage. When Copper is alloyed with other metals, such as zinc (to form brass), aluminium or tin (to form bronzes), or nickel, for example, it can acquire new characteristics for use in highly specialised applications.

The use of Copper is becoming more desirable to different industries due to its antimicrobial properties. Due to copper’s ability to destroy microorganisms that might carry disease, copper and alloy products can be used to eliminate pathogens and reduce the spread of diseases, even being used within the layers of face masks!

Copper Bars

How Copper contributes to the Circular Economy

The life of Copper is continuous as it can be recycled repeatedly without any loss of performance and uses up to 85% less energy than primary production, saving 40 million tonnes of CO2 annually in Europe. As one of the most recycled of all metals, Copper is a sustainable material that is crucial to building the economy. It works on a make, use and recycle format as it is 100% recyclable, and it can be used in numerous projects without losing its essential properties such as conductivity. The leading Copper producers are Chile, Peru, China, the United States and Australia. Analysts suggest that consumption is predicted to rise more than 40% by 2035 driven by the demand of sustainable green technologies. The industry is working extremely hard and are committed to reducing the environmental impact of operations. Europe leads the way regarding the recycling of Copper, with nearly 50% of its demand currently met by recycled material.

The Price of Copper 2021

Copper Price Graph

The price of Copper during 2021 has experienced significant changes, sending the LME (London Metal Exchange) price over £7,000 per tonne.

The 2021 Year high price so far has been £7704.00 with the year low at £5675.50 per tonne.

Why do economists call it Dr Copper?

Often Copper is referred to as Doctor Copper for its alleged ability to act as an indicator of the health of the world economy. According to financial research over the past 20 years, changes in the metals prices have had a 65% correlation with the global manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), a key sign of global development. If the price begins to decline it may indicate a decrease in demand and a pending economic stoppage. Leading analysts who specialise in predicting the price suggest that the commodity is an asset that should benefit from a cyclical reflationary rebound soon, and green energy surge over a longer period.

Copper Coils

How much is there in the world?

Although Copper items and ornaments have been discovered dating back to 9000 BC evidence suggests that it was around 5000 to 6000 years ago where the extraction and working with the shiny metal first took place. Analysts suggest that 700 million metric tonnes of copper have been produced worldwide. Currently, there is 6.3 billion metric tonnes of discovered and undiscovered of Copper on earth. Analysts claim that 65% of identified Copper yet to mined, can be found in just five countries: Chile, Australia, Peru, China and the United States.

Is all copper mined?

There are currently an average of 250 mines in operation with approximately 40 countries in production. Mining is typically completed using open pit or underground mining. Ores near the surface can be extracted after removal of the surface layers. An ore, which is a rock that holds enough metal to be extracted, is crushed into powder, and enriched removing unwanted material. After the chemical reaction has commenced, the air is blown into the liquid matte blister Copper and is cast into anodes for electrolysis and is purified to 99.99%. The largest mining countries in the world have an increasingly significant role producing metal that underpins major global industries and will play a pivotal in the transition to a low- carbon energy system. Chile is the world’s leading producing country, reportedly with 5.7 million tonnes of the metal mined in 2020, with some of the largest Copper mines including the Escondida, Collahusai and El Teniente. The remaining top mining countries are Peru, China, Australia, and the United States, hosting mines such as Kennecott, which produce many millions of tonnes per year.

Copper Bars

Will we mine all Copper on Earth?

Despite increased demand for copper produced from ore in recent years, increases in reserves have grown, and there is more identified metal available to the world than at any other time in history. This combined with the success of recycling suggests that we are particularly unlikely to experience an interruption within the supply chain. Globally, there are 5,000 million tonnes of Copper resources and 870 million tonnes of current global reserves. It is predicted that future mining will reveal an increase in both reserves and resources, ensuring the demand of the annual global Copper usage of 28 million tonnes can be met effectively.

Fun Fact

The Statue of Liberty is coated with a thin layer of Copper, which appears a blue or green colour due to the chemical reaction between metal and water and the ageing of the iconic monument. The change of colour occurs due to the process, described as patination, when the metal is left exposed to the elements.

Copper Lined Statue of Liberty

How can ILF help you?

ILF are a UK based specialised supplier of Copper and Copper alloys to the electrical and associated industries. We manufacture a range of Copper busbar which can be supplied as a semi-finished product or a fully fabricated busbar to customer’s specific drawings. ILF continue to provide customers with the best available supply of Copper, meeting customers’ demands and maintaining high inventory levels. ILF are excited for what the future of the industry holds and supporting customers with their new demand.

Have you had increased copper demand for your products? If you have been impacted, we would love to hear from you and find a solution to your challenges.

📲- @ILFLtd

☎️-01543 226 816




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ILF Milly Edwards

Sales and Marketing Executive: Responsible for creating content for ILF's social media channels, website, print media and promotional work.

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