According to Bank of America, the world is facing “running out of copper” due to widening supply and demand shortfalls, with prices reaching $20,000 per metric tonne by 2025. In a report published Tuesday, Bank of America commodity strategist Michael Widmer noted that stockpiles measured in tonnes had reached levels last seen 15 years ago, meaning that inventories presently cover little over three weeks of demand.
This is happening at a time when the global economy is starting to open up and reflate. On May 9, 2021, copper prices hit an all-time high of $10,512 per metric tonne, a 130 percent increase since March 22, 2020. Copper prices have risen over the past year due to strong demand from China, the world’s largest copper user, as well as increased optimism about the general economy in light of the COVID-19 vaccine rollouts. Copper demand is projected to increase further as concerns about low copper supplies grow.
Copper is the most commonly utilized metal in the energy-generating, transmission, and storage industries. After aluminum and steel, it is the third most widely used metal in construction. Some experts have predicted that copper prices will rise to $13,000 a tonne in the future due to the underlying environment and depleting inventories.
David Neuhauser, founder and managing director of U.S. hedge fund Livermore Partners, also stated, “I think copper is the new oil and I think copper, for the next five to 10 years, is going to look tremendous with the potential for $20,000 per metric ton.” In such a case, scrap supply is crucial. Experts have predicted that scrap utilization at smelters/refiners might rise from roughly 4,200t in 2016 to 6,700t by 2025. However, if this does not happen, inventories might deplete within the next three years, resulting in even more severe price swings that could send the red metal above $20,000/t ($9.07/lb).
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