A worker negotiates his way amid the melting pots of copper at the foundry of the Chuquicamata copper mine

Copper prices are surging as supply constraints combined with a surge in demand represent a perfect storm for the soft metal.

Copper prices per ton soared to just under $10,000 on Monday, representing its highest level since 2011. Amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, copper prices per ton traded at less than $5,000.

A global economic resurgence as the pandemic recedes has helped drive soaring demand for copper, as well as green energy initiatives that are sprinkled throughout President Joe Biden’s $2.2 trillion infrastructure proposal.

Copper is increasingly needed in the production of electric vehicles, which require close to 200 pounds of the metal in a single vehicle. Gas-powered vehicles on the other hand only require about 20 to 50 pounds of copper.

With demand increasing and supply constraints ongoing, Goldman Sachs thinks the price of the red metal can surge to $15,000 by 2025, according to a note titled, “Copper is the new oil.” The bank believes annual demand for copper will surge 900% from current levels to 8.7 million tons by 2030.

“Ripple effects into non-green channels mean the 2020s are expected to be the strongest phase of volume growth in global copper demand in history,” Goldman said, before adding that “the copper market is unprepared for this critical role.”

Copper production declined in 2020 due to government restrictions and lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic. The world’s largest copper producers, Chile and Peru, were hit especially hard by the pandemic, which could impact supply until 2023, according to commodity analysts S&P Global. Earlier this month, prices spiked following Chilean border closures related to the pandemic.

At present, Goldman Sachs “now estimate a long-term supply gap of 8.2 million tons by 2030, twice the size of the gap that triggered the bull market in copper in the early 2000s.”

The surge in copper


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