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A Synopsis of S&P Global's 2023 Big Picture of Metal and Mining

Updated: May 11, 2023


S&P's graph demonstrating major copper discovery drought continues

As of May 10, 2022. A major copper discovery includes any deposit containing at least 500,000 tonnes of copper in reserves, resources and past production, with the year of discovery corresponding to the year of the initial drill program that identified potentially economic mineralization. Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence. © 2022 S&P Global.



Last month, S&P Global published their annual overview report on the state of the metals and mining industry. Entitled The Big Picture: 2023 Metals and Mining Industry Outlook, this 14-page summary on what to expect from the metal and mining market in the coming year is on the S&P Global Website. While I encourage you to read the report in it’s entirety, I will provide a brief synopsis of the information presented in this document as it pertains specifically to the copper market.


Metal Market Overview:

With global economic conditions expected to continue to decline in early 2023 due rising inflation, the potential of a recession, and the war in Ukraine, S&P Global projects a continued negative impact on the metals and mining market as a whole. However, if inflation concerns are adequately addressed and improved, there is hope that the market may see an upturn as the year progresses. The continued demand for progress in renewable energy and energy efficiency should translate into additional support for mining expansion projects in the near future. Prices for these metals are expected to remain high when compared to pre-pandemic pricing through at least the year 2026.


Price of Copper:

One of the biggest influences on copper demand is the disruption of the real estate market. The housing market is trending toward a distinct fall in new construction and there is the potential for an overall downturn in the real estate market due to high interest rates put in place as a response to rising inflation. While the price of copper is expected to remain above prices in the recent pre-pandemic past, with pressure from inflation we can expect to see about a 7% drop when compared to 2022.


Supply and Demand of Copper:

Copper is projected to see a continued growth in demand due to its central role in electric vehicles and other important renewable energy sources. In fact, S&P is estimating that demand for copper will double by 2035, “based on decarbonization initiatives aimed at meeting the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.” This demand, however, is likely to be met with limited supply. According to S&P, only twelve significant copper mine discoveries have been made since 2012, a marked difference between the 82 major copper discoveries from 2002 to 2011. In addition, both existing mines and new discoveries are also facing extensive examination from environmental activists and government agencies, likely limiting the amount of new copper deposits that can be mined.


Conclusion:

In summary, we can expect copper prices to drop slightly in the coming year. However, demand is projected to continue to rise, doubling by the year 2035. This rise in demand will be complicated by the lack of new copper mining and limitations of existing mines from environmental and government agencies. Overall, it is believed that unless something changes drastically in the near future, demand for copper will far out weigh production.

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