- Peak copper
Peak copper is the point in time at which the maximum global
copperproduction rate is reached, after which, according to theory, the production rate will enter terminal decline. Copper is among the most important industrial metals. Like fossil fuels, copper is a finite resource, though, unlike them, it is scrapped and reused. Copper is used in electrical power cables, data cables, electrical equipment, automobile radiators, cooling and refrigeration tubing, heat exchangers, artillery shellcasings, water pipes, and jewellery.
Copper has been in use at least 10,000 years, but more than 95 percent of all copper ever mined and smelted has been extracted since 1900. As India and China race to catch up with the West, copper is becoming in short supply,cite web
publisher=Salon - How the World Works
accessdate=2008-03-23] leading to increased prices and an increase in copper theft.
North America alone mined 164 million metric tons of the reddish-brown metal.cite web
title=Measure of Metal Supply Finds Future Shortage
Copper demand is increasing by more than 575,000 tons annually and accelerating. Based on 2006 figures for per capita consumption, Tom Graedel and colleagues at Yale University calculate that by 2100 global demand for copper will outstrip the amount extractable from the ground. cite web
title=Earth's natural wealth: an audit
accessdate=2008-04-09] China accounts for more than 22% of world copper demand. [cite web
title=Deaths and disruption as price rise sees copper thefts soar
author=Dan Glaister, Tania Branigan and Owen Bowcott
For some purposes, other metals can substitute. For example, during a copper shortage in the 1970s,
aluminum wirewas substituted in many applications, bringing difficulties that persisted in later decades.
Globally, economic copper resources are being depleted with the equivalent production of three world-class copper mines being consumed annually. Environmental analyst,
Lester Brownhas suggested copper might run out within 25 years based on what he considered a reasonable extrapolation of 2% growth per year.cite book
title=Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble
publisher=New York: W.W. Norton
New copper discoveries
56 new copper discoveries have been made during the past three decades. World discoveries of copper peaked in 1996. [cite web
title=Peak Copper Means Peak Silver
The chief producers of copper are Chile, United States, and Peru.cite web
title=Supply Risk, Scarcity, and Cellphones
author=Samuel K. Moore
accessdate=2008-03-23] 21 of the 28 largest copper mines in the world are not amenable to expansion.Many large copper mines will be exhausted between 2010 and 2015.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported a current total reserve base of copper (economic and uneconomic) of 1.6 billion tonnes as of 2005, of which 950 million tonnes was considered economically recoverable.
Known conventional resources
Each year in the USA, more copper is recovered and put back into service from recycled material than is derived from newly mined ore. Copper’s recycle value is so great that premium-grade scrap normally has at least 95% of the value of primary metal from newly mined ore. [cite web
title=Copper in the USA: Bright Future – Glorious Past
Copper Development Association
Undiscovered conventional resources
Based on current discovery rates and existing geologic surveys, researchers have estimated that 1.6 billion metric tons of copper exist that could potentially be brought into use. This figure relies on the broadest possible definition of available copper as well as a lack of energy constraints and environmental concerns.
Deep-sea nodules are estimated to contain 700 million tonnes of copper.
Peak copper for individual nations
One researcher has stated that Chile, which produces one third of the world's copper, may begin to decline irreversibly in 2008. However, this is contradicted by the Chilean Copper Commission, which has projected that, based on planned expansion projects, Chilean copper production will continue to increase through at least 2012. [ [http://www.icsg.org/conferences/Sep_06_meeting_Cochilco_Presentation.pdf Chilean Copper Commission (Sept. 2006): "Current and future situation of the copper industry in Chile" (Adobe *.PDF file)] ]
Poland peaked in 1970 at 2 million tonnes per year. [cite web
title=Mineral raw materials and commodities of Poland
author=Marcin Piwocki and Stanislaw Przenioslo
Zaire, Copper production fell by 90% from 1976 (502,000 tons) to wartime 1993 (50,000 tons). Resumption depends on political factors. [cite web
title=Zaire: IRIN Briefing Part II
publisher=University Of Pennsylvania
Some of the world’s most respected companies and institutions in copper futures are saying that copper prices will fluctuate between 280 and 360 cents per pound in 2008, with an average of approximately 325 cents, similar to that of 2007. [cite web
title=CHILE: Copper Boom - Cui Bono?
accessdate=2008-03-23] The price of copper struck its highest ever on March 6, 2008 on the London Metal Exchange (LME), surging 5.8 percent over the previous trading day to 4.02 dollars per pound. The previous record was set on May 12, 2006 at 3.98 dollars per pound. The international copper price has been increasing rapidly since the beginning of 2008. Copper prices rose 23 percent February 2008. [cite web
title=International copper price hits record high
Mineral resource classification
Hubbert peak theory
* [http://www.copper.org/ Copper.org]
title=Metal Stocks and Sustainability
author=R. B. Gordon*, M. Bertram and T. E. Graedel
publisher=Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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