25 OCT

2018

Asset Class , Green Metals , SRI

Copper, the unexpected ally of energy transition

Used since ancient Egypt for its medicinal properties, copper came into use in modern times during the 20th century with the development of electricity. Nowadays, copper, due to its hyper-conductivity, is the base material for electrical transmission. This is how copper became the ally of the green transport revolution.

An electric vehicle may use up to 6 kilometres of copper wire, according to the International Copper Association (ICA). Given the increase in battery power in coming years and therefore the quantity of copper to be used, the IEA has estimated that electric vehicles could use 300kg more copper in 2030 than internal combustion engine vehicles. Some analysts have estimated that electric vehicles could represent up to 6% of copper demand in 10 years, compared to less than 1% today.

The development of infrastructures to recharge electric vehicles is a further source of demand, particularly considering that copper for the electricity network and recharging stations represents almost 25% of the demand associated with electric vehicles. Future copper demand is likely to surge, given that China plans to become one of the leaders in terms of electric vehicles and will therefore invest massively in the electrical network.

Although copper does not represent a technological breakthrough, it is part of energy transition and the electrification of the transport system due to its highly-conductive qualities. The role of copper in energy transition should not be underestimated.
Major players in this market in a strong position to respond to the surge in demand will undoubtedly be the winners over the medium and long terms. BHP, the leading global mining group, considers copper “an extremely attractive commodity”. For BHP, which meets our key ESG criteria and is included in our portfolios, copper is one of the main drivers of its future growth.