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Copper is the New Gold

22 Feb, 2023

In many ways, copper is like mother nature: versatile, robust, and forgiving. Its properties make it an invaluable and abundant resource. 2.1 billion tons of it are yet to be mined while 700 million tons are currently in circulation. Copper is easy to shape as it is highly conductive to heat and electricity. It is antifouling, antimicrobial, durable, aesthetic, and easily recyclable. With its large reserves and useful qualities, how relevant is it for your trading business? This article looks at and analyzes the import-export data of Copper ore. Read till the end to find crucial information.

The Trade Vision is a premier data provider and market intelligence company with decades of import and export experience. Access data on the go with our accessible and comprehensive data reports from over 100 countries.

Historical perspective

Copper has been essential to us since prehistoric times due to its wide availability and convenience. One of the primary ‘ages’, The Bronze Age, was named after the copper alloy. It signifies just how much copper has influenced our history. Besides being a biologically crucial nutrient, it continues to serve many important roles. From ancient Egyptians, and Romans, to modern-day cultures all over the world. Its extensive use in plumbing, infrastructure, electricity, cooking, and antifouling(preventing the festering of unwanted organisms) has shaped our world.

Export analysis

The usage of copper might be all-pervasive, yet just five countries hold 65% of the discovered resources. We can see this reflected in the copper ore export data. Chile and Peru are geographically located over a volcanic belt that hosts the world’s largest reserve of mineable copper. Australia, Mexico, and the US are the remaining three countries each with its own vast reserve. Mexico also has a long tradition of copper work stretching back to the 18th century. Mining of minerals has long been crucial to Canada’s economy and the government ardently advocates sustainable practices.

Top exporting countries (2020)

  1. Chile ($21.4 billion)
  2. Peru ($9.23 billion)
  3. Australia ($3.85 billion)
  4. Canada ($3.12 billion)
  5. Mexico ($2.92 billion)

Import analysis

The biggest usage of copper today is in electrical wiring and infrastructure building. Many Asian countries require the material to develop facilities but do not have any natural sources within their borders. China especially has a massive long-term need for these facilities to support its equally sizable population and economy. We can see in the copper ore import data summary below that it is by far the single biggest importer. Germany, Japan, and South Korea also have highly developed mechanical industries that require new materials for their production.

Top importing countries (2020)

  1. China ($33.9 billion)
  2. Japan ($8.51 billion)
  3. South Korea ($4.22 billion)
  4. Germany ($2.03 billion)
  5. Spain ($1.8 billion)

What to expect

Copper prices were recently at an all-time high because of two reasons. Now that China is finally recovering from the latest wave of COVID-19, suppliers expected a massive surge in demand. On top of that, current political unrest in Peru is disrupting supply on a large scale. China is yet to increase demand and copper prices have fallen over the past few weeks in response. Demand is now expected to pick up in the second quarter.

That’s the mid-term scale, but on a long-term scale, copper looks more like gold. There is likely to be a generational shift in copper’s value along with decarbonization. There is a shift that is happening to sustainable energy like wind, solar, etc. and more electric machinery in general. Copper’s overwhelming use in electronics makes it an essential resource for the future. Thus in the long term, copper is likely to become immensely valuable. Countries like Zambia are becoming sought after because of their own copper reserves.