Plenty of Copper in the Coffer
9 July 2013
New research shows that existing copper resources can sustain increasing world-wide demand for at least a century, dispelling myths that the resource would run out in 30 years.
Researchers from Monash University conducted the study which found there are plenty of copper resources – at least 100 years’ worth – within the reach of current technologies.
The database, published in two peer-reviewed papers, was compiled by Dr Gavin Mudd and Zhehan Weng from Environmental Engineering and Dr Simon Jowitt from the School of Geosciences. It is based on mineral resource estimates from mining companies and includes information vital for carbon and energy-use modelling, such as the ore grade of the deposits.
Dr Jowitt said the database could change the industry’s understanding of copper availability.
“Although our estimates are much larger than any previously available, they’re a minimum. In fact, figures for resources at some mining projects have already doubled or more since we completed the database,” Dr Jowitt said.
“Further, the unprecedented level of detail we’ve presented will likely improve industry practice with respect to mineral resource reporting and allow more informed geological exploration.”
Dr Mudd said the vast volumes of available copper meant the mining picture was far more complex than merely stating there were ‘x’ years of supply left.
The University is planning to create similar databases for other metals, such as nickel, uranium, rare earths, cobalt and others, in order to paint a comprehensive picture of worldwide mineral availability.