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Copper Needs to Be Classified as Critical Metal

Copper should be classified as a critical material by the U.S. government, billionaire mining investor Robert Friedland said in a Bloomberg TV interview.

“It has to be, it’s obvious,” Friedland said, speaking of classifying copper as a critical material under the terms of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which looks to reduce dependence on China for materials related to clean energy, such as copper.

“America hasn’t developed a mine of consequence for 40 years. The mining of copper is absolutely critical,” Friedland added.

 Commodity majors such as Glencore and Trafigura have been warning about a coming shortage of copper for months because of the expected surge in demand driven by energy transition efforts.

“There’s a huge deficit coming in copper, and as much as people write about it, the price is not yet reflecting it,” Glencore’s chief executive Gary Nagle told analysts last December.

The European Union has already classified copper as a critical raw material.

According to the Copper Development Association Inc, Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea—countries the United States isn’t exactly on congenial terms with—now account for about half of all non-U.S. global refined copper production. What’s more, the United States is increasingly reliant on imports, “with the share of refined consumption that is reliant on net imports rising from 31% in 2016 to a staggering 49.3% in 2021.”

The USGS updated its methodology for determining which metals should be considered a critical mineral in 2021—but copper didn’t meet the criteria with the 2018 data that it had at the time.

The USGS threshold for classifying a material as a critical mineral is its foreign supply disruption potential, trade exposure, and how vulnerable the U.S. manufacturing sector is to a supply disruption. The more the United States pushes into greener energy territories, the more significant those risks become.

The CDA argues that 2021 data now qualifies copper to be classified as critical.


By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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  • George Doolittle on June 23 2023 said:
    Something going on in Arizona on Tribal Lands? Either way good luck claiming copper shortage from Mexico let alone Canada.

    Not sure what is going on with mining a meteor but knowing the difference between copper ore and I think called "copper cathodes" is no small matter, absolutely yes.

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