Copper: the economics?

This data-file quantifies the economics of producing copper, across a typical mining operation and a typical smelting/refining operation, to yield 99.99% pure copper output.

Marginal cost is likely around $7,000/ton ($3.20/lb) for a high-quality future project, with an emissions intensity close to 4 kg of CO2 per kg of copper.

But it depends heavily on ore grade. We estimate that a 0.1% reduction in future copper ore grading increases marginal cost by around 9% and CO2 intensity by around 10%, which matters as copper demand is set to treble in the energy transition.

Moreover, each $100/ton of CO2 prices would increase marginal cost by another 7.5%.

It is not unimaginable that copper prices could reach $15,000/ton in an aggressive energy transition scenario, if you stress-test the model.