Glencore Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg said on Tuesday that a supply gap was growing in the metals necessary for the world to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, but he stopped short of predicting a so-called super cycle.
Glasenberg said at the Qatar Economic Forum that copper supplies needed to increase by one million tonnes a year until 2050 to meet an expected demand of 60 million tonnes.
“Today, the world consumes 30 million tonnes of copper per year and by the year 2050, following this trajectory, we’ve got to produce 60 million tonnes of copper per year,” he said.
“If you look at the historical past 10 years, we’ve only added 500,000 tonnes per year … Do we have the projects? I don’t think so. I think it will be extremely difficult.”
Shares of many mining companies have doubled in the past year, as policy support measures in advanced economies in response to the covid-19 pandemic stoked inflation.
Commodities serve as a hedge against inflation, meaning their prices are expected to stay strong.
At the same time, the transition to a low-carbon economy and channeling of stimulus funds into infrastructure is generating demand for raw materials.
Demand for copper is rising for use in renewable energy projects and electric vehicles. Prices hit a record high above $10,000 a tonne in May, before falling about $1,500 a tonne.
The nickel and cobalt markets are facing similar supply deficits over the next few decades. Glasenberg said nickel supplies needed to grow by an extra 250,000 tonnes a year compared with a historic rate of just 100,000 tonnes.
He projected annual nickel demand to rise to 9.2 million tonnes from the current 2.5 million tonnes.
(By Clara Denina and Julia Payne; Editing by Alexander Smith and Paul Simao)