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Copper 101

Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu (from Latin: cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal. Copper is one of the best conductors of heat and electricity, and is used extensively as a building material, in electric motors, plumbing, and as a constituent of various metal alloys, such as sterling silver used in jewelry and coins. A typical home has about 500 pounds of copper in it, while a car with an internal combustion engine has about 40 pounds. An electric car has about 180 pounds.

The most common substitute for copper in wire is aluminum. However, copper is preferred as it conducts significantly better and is less prone to breaking. 

In 2019, Canadian mines produced 543,608 tonnes of copper in concentrate, and Canada’s total exports of copper were valued at $7.0 billion that year. World production of copper is expected by many to remain stable or fall slightly over the next several years, while consumption is expected to increase unless there is a worldwide recession.

Banker Goldman Sachs said in April, 2021, that copper will be crucial in achieving decarbonization and replacing oil with renewable energy sources, and right now, the market is facing a supply crunch that could boost the price by more than 60% in four years. Increased demand and likely low supply are set to drive up the price from the current levels of around US$9,000 per ton to US$15,000 per ton (about US$6.80 per pound) by 2025, the bank said. As a cost-effective metal, copper is majorly important in the process of creating, storing and distributing clean energy from the wind, sun and geothermal sources as it has the physical attributes needed to do so, Goldman’s team of analysts said in a report titled “Copper is the new oil”.

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