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Copper Mining and Vehicle Electrification

Copper Mining and Vehicle Electrification

Full Title: Copper Mining and Vehicle Electrification
Author(s): Lawrence M. Cathles and Adam C. Simon
Publisher(s): International Energy Forum
Publication Date: May 21, 2024
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

Copper is the mineral most fundamental to the human future because it is essential to electricity generation, distribution, and storage. Copper availability and demand determine the rate of electrification, which is the foundation of current climate policy. Many studies have raised concerns that copper supply cannot meet the copper demands of both the green energy transition and equitable global development, but the seemingly universal presumption persists that the copper needed for the green transition will somehow be available. This need not be the case for even the first step of vehicle electrification.

This paper addresses this issue by projecting copper supply and demand from 2018 to 2050 and placing both in the historical context of copper mine output. Discussion is focused on a single diagram that illustrates the unprecedented nature of the copper mining challenge and ways to reduce copper demand.

Just to meet business-as-usual trends, 115% more copper must be mined in the next 30 years than has been mined historically until now. To electrify the global vehicle fleet requires bringing into production 55% more new mines than would otherwise be needed. On the other hand, hybrid electric vehicle manufacture would require negligible extra copper mining.

All statements and/or propositions in discussion prompts are meant exclusively to stimulate discussion and do not represent the views of, its Partners, Topic Directors or Experts, nor of any individual or organization. Comments by and opinions of Expert participants are their own.

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