Infographic: Visualizing Copper's Global Supply Chain
Connect with us

Sponsored

Visualizing Copper’s Global Supply Chain

Published

on

Copper is all around us: in our homes, electronic devices, and transportation.

But before copper ends up in these products and technologies, the industry must mine, refine and transport this copper all over the globe.

Copper’s Supply Chain

This infographic comes to us from Trilogy Metals and it outlines copper’s supply chain from the mine to the refinery.

Copper's Supply Chain

Copper Deposits Around the World

Copper is a mineral that comes from the Earth’s crust. However, natural history did not evenly distribute it around the world. There are certain geological conditions that need to happen to make an economic deposit of copper.

There are two primary types of copper deposits:

  1. Porphyry Copper Deposits

    These copper ore deposits form from hydrothermal fluids coming from magma chambers below the copper deposit. These are currently the largest source of copper in the world.

  2. Sediment-hosted Copper Deposits

    These are copper deposits that occur in sedimentary rocks that are bound by layers. They are formed by the cooling of copper-bearing hydrothermal fluids.

Copper-containing rock or ore only has a small percentage of copper. Most of the rock is uneconomic material, known as gangue. There are two main copper ore types in mining: copper oxide ores and copper sulfide ores.

Both ore types can be economic, however, the most common source of copper ore is the sulfide ore mineral chalcopyrite, which accounts for ~50% of copper production.

Sulfide copper ores are the most profitable ores because they have high copper content, and refiners easily separate copper from the gangue. Sulfide ores are not as abundant as the oxide ores.

Copper Trade Flows

While copper is a global business, there are clear leaders in the production and refinement of copper based on geology and demand. Chile is the major source for copper, exporting both mined and refined copper.

In a list of the 20 biggest copper mines, 11 reside in Chile and Peru accounting for 40% of mined copper. Meanwhile, China is a leading importer and exporter of refined copper, and it’s home to 9 of the 20 biggest copper smelters in the world.

Copper Imports/Exports

However, this concentrated geography of supply creates risks for the the copper trade.

Inherent Risks

While Chile is one of the richest sources of copper in the world, the mining industry has exploited copper deposits to the point where the grade or quality of the copper ore is declining.

Codelco, the national copper miner of Chile and the world’s largest producer of copper, plans to spend $32B by 2027 to extend the life of its current mines and maintain its copper output.

In addition to declining grades, the geography of copper mining exposes the risk of supply disruption by natural forces.

The borders of Chile and Peru overlap the intersection of the Nazca and the South American Tectonic plates. Movement of these plates can produce powerful earthquakes.

According to one study, regions in Chile and Peru face a greater than 85% chance of a serious earthquake in the next 50 years, potentially disrupting copper mining operations. And according to Wood Mackenzie, a 15-day closure of copper mines in Chile and Peru could wipe out 1.5% of global annual production, or 300,000 tons of copper.

Falling grades and tectonic risk suggest that mining costs are likely to increase, making copper production more expensive and new discoveries more valuable.

Copper for the Future: New Discoveries

As economies grow and infrastructure needs increase, the demand for copper will grow. However, without new discoveries and sources of production, the world could face a shortage of the red metal.

According to data from S&P and the London Metals Exchange, the discovery of copper has not kept up with investment in copper exploration. If this trend persists, there will not be enough copper to replace current resources. On top of this, production from already producing copper mines face resource exhaustion and declining grades.

In order to maintain copper’s supply chain, the world needs new copper discoveries to ensure everyone has access to the materials and products that make modern life.

Click for Comments

Sponsored

Ranked: Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

Roughly 25% of all GHG emissions come from electricity production. See how the top 30 IOUs rank by emissions per capita.

Published

on

Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

Approximately 25% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) come from electricity generation.

Subsequently, this means investor-owned utilities (IOUs) will have a crucial role to play around carbon reduction initiatives. This is particularly true for the top 30 IOUs, where almost 75% of utility customers get their electricity from.

This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council ranks the largest IOUs by emissions per capita. By accounting for the varying customer bases they serve, we get a more accurate look at their green energy practices. Here’s how they line up.

Per Capita Rankings

The emissions per capita rankings for the top 30 investor-owned utilities have large disparities from one another.

Totals range from a high of 25.8 tons of CO2 per customer annually to a low of 0.5 tons.

UtilityEmissions Per Capita (CO2 tons per year)Total Emissions (M)
TransAlta25.816.3
Vistra22.497.0
OGE Energy21.518.2
AES Corporation19.849.9
Southern Company18.077.8
Evergy14.623.6
Alliant Energy14.414.1
DTE Energy14.229.0
Berkshire Hathaway Energy14.057.2
Entergy13.840.5
WEC Energy13.522.2
Ameren12.831.6
Duke Energy12.096.6
Xcel Energy11.943.3
Dominion Energy11.037.8
Emera11.016.6
PNM Resources10.55.6
PPL Corporation10.428.7
American Electric Power9.250.9
Consumers Energy8.716.1
NRG Energy8.229.8
Florida Power and Light8.041.0
Portland General Electric7.66.9
Fortis Inc.6.112.6
Avangrid5.111.6
PSEG3.99.0
Exelon3.834.0
Consolidated Edison1.66.3
Pacific Gas and Electric0.52.6
Next Era Energy Resources01.1

PNM Resources data is from 2019, all other data is as of 2020

Let’s start by looking at the higher scoring IOUs.

TransAlta

TransAlta emits 25.8 tons of CO2 emissions per customer, the largest of any utility on a per capita basis. Altogether, the company’s 630,000 customers emit 16.3 million metric tons. On a recent earnings call, its management discussed clear intent to phase out coal and grow their renewables mix by doubling their renewables fleet. And so far it appears they’ve been making good on their promise, having shut down the Canadian Highvale coal mine recently.

Vistra

Vistra had the highest total emissions at 97 million tons of CO2 per year and is almost exclusively a coal and gas generator. However, the company announced plans for 60% reductions in CO2 emissions by 2030 and is striving to be carbon neutral by 2050. As the highest total emitter, this transition would make a noticeable impact on total utility emissions if successful.

Currently, based on their 4.3 million customers, Vistra sees per capita emissions of 22.4 tons a year. The utility is a key electricity provider for Texas, ad here’s how their electricity mix compares to that of the state as a whole:

Energy SourceVistraState of Texas
Gas63%52%
Coal29%15%
Nuclear6%9%
Renewables1%24%
Oil1%0%

Despite their ambitious green energy pledges, for now only 1% of Vistra’s electricity comes from renewables compared to 24% for Texas, where wind energy is prospering.

Based on those scores, the average customer from some of the highest emitting utility groups emit about the same as a customer from each of the bottom seven, who clearly have greener energy practices. Let’s take a closer look at emissions for some of the bottom scoring entities.

Utilities With The Greenest Energy Practices

Groups with the lowest carbon emission scores are in many ways leaders on the path towards a greener future.

Exelon

Exelon emits only 3.8 tons of CO2 emissions per capita annually and is one of the top clean power generators across the Americas. In the last decade they’ve reduced their GHG emissions by 18 million metric tons, and have recently teamed up with the state of Illinois through the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Through this, Exelon will receive $700 million in subsidies as it phases out coal and gas plants to meet 2030 and 2045 targets.

Consolidated Edison

Consolidated Edison serves nearly 4 million customers with a large chunk coming from New York state. Altogether, they emit 1.6 tons of CO2 emissions per capita from their electricity generation.

The utility group is making notable strides towards a sustainable future by expanding its renewable projects and testing higher capacity limits. In addition, they are often praised for their financial management and carry the title of dividend aristocrat, having increased their dividend for 47 years and counting. In fact, this is the longest out of any utility company in the S&P 500.

A Sustainable Tomorrow

Altogether, utilities will have a pivotal role to play in decarbonization efforts. This is particularly true for the top 30 U.S. IOUs, who serve millions of Americans.

Ultimately, this means a unique moment for utilities is emerging. As the transition toward cleaner energy continues and various groups push to achieve their goals, all eyes will be on utilities to deliver.

The National Public Utilities Council is the go-to resource to learn how utilities can lead in the path towards decarbonization.

Continue Reading

Sponsored

The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

The U.S. alone generates ∼12 million tons of asphalt shingles tear-off waste and installation scrap every year and more than 90% of it is dumped into landfills.

Published

on

Road to Decarbonization - How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

Asphalt, also known as bitumen, has various applications in the modern economy, with annual demand reaching 110 million tons globally.

Until the 20th century, natural asphalt made from decomposed plants accounted for the majority of asphalt production. Today, most asphalt is refined from crude oil.

This graphic, sponsored by Northstar Clean Technologies, shows how new technologies to reuse and recycle asphalt can help protect the environment.

The Impact of Climate Change

Pollution from vehicles is expected to decline as electric vehicles replace internal combustion engines.

But pollution from asphalt could actually increase in the next decades because of rising temperatures in some parts of the Earth. When subjected to extreme temperatures, asphalt releases harmful greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere.

Emissions from Road Construction (Source) CO2 equivalent (%)
Asphalt 28%
Concrete18%
Excavators and Haulers16%
Trucks13%
Crushing Plant 10%
Galvanized Steel 6%
Reinforced Steel6%
Plastic Piping 2%
Geotextile1%

Asphalt paved surfaces and roofs make up approximately 45% and 20% of surfaces in U.S. cities, respectively. Furthermore, 75% of single-family detached homes in Canada and the U.S. have asphalt shingles on their roofs.

Reducing the Environmental Impact of Asphalt

Similar to roads, asphalt shingles have oil as the primary component, which is especially harmful to the environment.

Shingles do not decompose or biodegrade. The U.S. alone generates ∼12 million tons of asphalt shingles tear-off waste and installation scrap every year and more than 90% of it is dumped into landfills, the equivalent of 20 million barrels of oil.

But most of it can be reused, rather than taking up valuable landfill space.

Using technology, the primary components in shingles can be repurposed into liquid asphalt, aggregate, and fiber, for use in road construction, embankments, and new shingles.

Providing the construction industry with clean, sustainable processing solutions is also a big business opportunity. Canada alone is a $1.3 billion market for recovering and reprocessing shingles.

Northstar Clean Technologies is the only public company that repurposes 99% of asphalt shingles components that otherwise go to landfills.

Continue Reading

Subscribe

Popular