The global copper market could accumulate a large deficit of almost eight million tonnes in a decade as soaring demand will outweigh new projects, the head of Chile’s State-owned Codelco, the world’s largest producer of the metal, said on Thursday.
During a speech at Asia Copper Week in Singapore, Maximo Pacheco, chairman of the board of Codelco, highlighted that although a surplus is expected in the short term due to new projects in Chile, Congo, Peru and Tibet, medium term demand will eclipse supply further down the line.
“Considering that some copper deposits are in the process of stopping production and that other projects are in the process of starting operations,” Pacheco said. “It is estimated that the deficit will be almost eight million tonnes in 10 years.”
He added that Chile, the world’s largest copper producer, produces 5.6-million tonnes a year.
Pacheco pointed out that the energy transition to combat climate change will take demand for copper from 25 million tonnes per year to just over 31-million tonnes in 2032.
Pacheco stressed that the window to cover the supply is “extremely short” compared to the time needed to exploit new deposits.
“If new mining projects do not come into operation,” Pacheco said. “The imbalance between supply and demand will begin to be noticed during the second half of this decade, in 2026.”