Get real: Copper price record was 56 years ago

Copper glow

Another day, another copper price high. 

In heavy volume on Monday copper for delivery in July hit a record intra-day level of $5.1990 a pound, or $11,460 a tonne. 

After the equivalent of $68 billion worth of copper lots exchanged hands in 24 hours, the brown metal is up 35% so far in 2024 with most of the gains in the last few weeks. 

Jeff Currie, ex Goldman Sachs and more recently Chief Strategy Officer of Energy Pathways at asset manager Carlyle, told Bloomberg in an interview headlined Copper is the New Oil (not it’s not) that copper “is the highest conviction trade I have ever seen”.  

Goldman had been calling copper at today’s prices for at least three years, but Currie’s reading of the energy pathways now sees copper going to $15,000 ($6.80 a pound). 

MINING.COM has been banging the same copper drum based on the metal’s position at the nexus of the green energy transition, but Currie adds two other tailwinds to green capex demand to get copper to $15k: 

  1. Green energy transition
  2. AI data centers
  3. Military demand.  

Add the long lead times to build new mines (just ask Rio Tinto), tight inventories and Currie says the 2021 call is finally paying off:

“You can’t come up with a better story [..] I’m confident that this time it is liftoff.”  

Currie also points out that only at $15,000 would copper match its inflation adjusted all-time peak reached in 1968 which came on the back of a housing boom in the US. 

Copper peaked at $0.72 in February of 1968 and as it happens, during that tumultuous year McDonald’s first introduced the Big Mac to America. 

The Big Mac, everyone’s favourite deflator, was priced at $0.49 in 1968. Today the Big Mac is a cool $5.99.   

Says Currie: “If you go back to the 2000s and I was as bullish on oil then as I am copper today. You know oil ended up going up from $20 to $140 seven times. The upside on copper here is very significant.”

Not sure exactly where on the 20-140 spectrum copper is trading today but if this is the argument that copper is the new oil, MINING.COM will take it.