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Copper supercycle could emerge in the medium term, economist says

Economist Patricia Mohr thinks copper might be headed towards supercycle territory in the medium term. Credit: AME.

Copper could be heading towards supercycle territory in the medium term, with price levels expected to reach above $5 per pound in the medium term, economist and commodity market specialist Patricia Mohr told the audience at the AME conference in Vancouver this week.

While most commodity prices have surged since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, demand for the suite of critical metals required to power the energy transition and enable the world to reach net-zero carbon emission targets do not always align with the production outlook for these metals. This is also true for copper.

While the top-performing metals of 2021 comprised China’s neodymium oxide, lithium spot concentrates in Western Australia, nickel sulphate in the domestic market in China, and LME copper, copper price performance was not nearly as spectacular as the price leaders.

However, the newfound demand for copper as a critical metal drives the potential for higher prices and prompts the copper price to act in non-traditional ways.

According to Mohr, industrial activity in China has decelerated to about 3% for six months running. “Typically, in the past, copper prices would have cratered. You’d be looking at $2.50 per pound copper, but instead, you’re looking at $4-plus copper, and the key reason is the advent of new demand, which is driving the market forward. China is likely to slow from growth of 8.1% last year to about 5% to 5.5% in the next few years, which is its potential for growth,” she told the AME Roundup in Vancouver.

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