The North Cape stands to benefit as the ‘new oil’, copper, is set to climb steadily as the global economy steers green
Cape Town: Big Tree Copper managing director Jan Nelson expects demand for the red metal to rise steadily over the next three decades. This, as the world has turned its full attention to sustainable energy and a greener economy. This is probably the start of a super cycle.
Investment bankers Goldman-Sachs already called copper “the new oil” last year. It’s a key part of green energy, from electric cars to powering wind turbines.
The recent panic over the conflict in Ukraine and its attendant threat to Europe’s dependence on Russian energy has caused the metal’s trade to surge to around $10,900 a ton. Prices have since fallen to what Nelson calls a “more realistic level”, but he said over the next few decades demand is expected to rise steadily with a long-term vision of 500% growth by 2050.
Demand is expected to exceed supply with an expected upward trajectory of around 16-20% by the end of the decade. At current production rates, a shortfall of at least 6 million tonnes is expected. Nelson said: “Meeting demand, even in the next twenty years, can be difficult at this rate. There is not enough exploration currently to allow the development of viable sources in a timely manner.
Given the metal’s history in the market, Nelson believes the generic nature of copper prices will continue to see short- and short-term fluctuations, but a longer-term view calls for a gradual upward trajectory.
He said: “This is good news for South Africa and the Northern Cape. The province has a large reserve of recyclable copper oxide deposits and wastes. Nelson anticipates increased exploration interest in the region alongside growing economic activity. “The current view is that there is at least a century of copper in the ground with a potential provincial production of 6 to 10 million tonnes,” he said.
Coupled with increased recycling efforts and mining in other parts of South Africa, copper could become South Africa’s new gold.
About Big Tree Copper:
Big Tree Copper is leading a new generation of companies embracing the philosophy of the United Nations Development Goals based on the principles of a circular economy, focused on people, planet and profit .
The company focuses on the restoration of natural habitat in the town of Nababeep, Northern Cape, South Africa, where 20th century copper mining negatively impacted an ecologically sensitive environment.
Through the development of its own technology, the company began to recycle previously dumped or mine waste to produce higher quality copper. This is done through a technologically advanced metallurgical process that provides commercial viability while restoring the original landscape.
Big Tree Copper is also philosophically tied to the fundamental principles of the United Nations Development Goals and, after launching operations in November 2021, plans to engage with the community to revitalize aspects of the decimated local socio-economic environment. when mining operations ceased a decade ago, on a sustainable basis.