OPINION – Historically, “copper” pennies used to be 95 percent copper. Now they are just 2 percent. Why? Copper is now too valuable to be used to make pennies, millions of which are simply thrown away or lost by people every year due to their low cash value. Due to its high conductivity, copper is needed for renewable-energy technologies, energy-efficient systems, and sustainable infrastructure, making it essential for our societal transition to cleaner energy and reduced carbon emissions.
Copper is a finite resource and is in short supply. All the copper mines in the world – which are concentrated mainly in just seven countries, including the U.Ss – can’t produce enough copper ore to meet the current demand for this valuable metal. Electrification is predicted to increase annual copper demand to 36.6 million metric tons by 2031, compared to 25.3 million tons in 2021, while the supply of mined copper ore is projected to be only 30.2 million tons by 2031, leaving a 6.4-million-ton shortfall between supply and demand.