Market analysts and mining company executives who spoke at the World Copper Conference this week in Santiago explained how the future of Copper is secure at least for the next couple of decades.
Increasing demand for smart electric devices and appliances are expected to keep Copper as the dominant material, industry players said, offsetting rising use of aluminium, a cheaper alternative to conduct electricity.
In light of the same, major copper miners including Chilean producer Codelco, Rio Tinto Plc have invested billions of dollars to bring new supplies of the metal online during the next two decades. Being the best electrical-conducting metal, after silver, Copper is widely used to make motors, batteries, wiring and other goods. The lighter Aluminium shares a few traits, but is more corrosive and brittle than its red rival and only about 60 per cent as conductive.
Battery developers have failed to replace copper in a lithium-ion battery’s anode with aluminium as lithium reacts with the latter causing corrosion.
“Copper is going to be central to the green revolution,” Charlie Durant, a CRU analyst, said at the World Copper Conference this week in Santiago.
Modern iterations of vehicles with electric powertrains use twice as much copper as internal combustion engines. And this is not just because of the number of cars expected to be produced in the future but also due to its battery chemistry.
Battery developers have failed to replace copper in a lithium-ion battery’s anode with aluminium as lithium reacts with the latter causing corrosion. “It’s an unfortunate side effect that means copper is essential,” Na Jiao, an analyst at consultancy IDTechEx, said at the conference. “Copper is regarded as the best candidate for lithium-ion battery anodes connectors.”
Paradoxically, the copper industry sees a boom in the wireless trend.
China, the world’s biggest automotive market, consumes half the world’s copper and vastly prefers it over aluminium due to corrosion issues. “There is not enough motivation to change copper to aluminium across China,” said Krisztina Kalman-Schueler of DMM Advisory Group.
Paradoxically, the copper industry sees a boom in the wireless trend, which has sparked major concern with respect to information security and health hazards from radio waves.
“Wireless is king, but concerns over the security and health of wireless will make wiring still very much appealing,” Martin Bergemann of Siemens AG said at the conference.