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 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:
- 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.
- 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.
However, this concentrated geography of supply creates risks for the the copper trade.
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.
Green Investing: How to Align Your Portfolio With the Paris Agreement
MSCI’s Climate Paris Aligned Indexes are designed to reduce risk exposure and capture green investing opportunities using 4 main objectives.
Green Investing: The Paris Agreement and Your Portfolio
In Part 1 of the Paris Agreement series, we showed that the world is on track for 3.5 degrees Celsius global warming by 2100—far from the 1.5 degree goal. We also explained what could happen if the signing nations fall short, including annual economic losses of up to $400 billion in the United States.
How can you act on this information to implement a green investing strategy? This graphic from MSCI is part 2 of the series, and it explains how investors can align their investment portfolios with the Paris Agreement.
Alignment Through Indexing
When investors are building a portfolio, they typically choose to align their portfolio with benchmark indexes. For example, investors looking to build a global equity portfolio could align with the MSCI All Country World Index.
The same principle applies for climate-minded investors, who can benchmark against MSCI’s Climate Paris Aligned Indexes. These indexes are designed to reduce risk exposure and capture green investing opportunities using 4 main objectives.
1.5 Degree Alignment
The key element is determining if a company is aligned with 1.5 degree warming compared to pre-industrial levels. To accomplish this, data is collected on company climate targets, emissions data, and estimates of current and future green revenues. Then, the indexes include companies with a 10% year-on-year decarbonization rate to drive temperature alignment.
Environmentally-friendly companies may have promising potential. For instance, the global clean technology market is expected to grow from $285 billion in 2020 to $453 billion in 2027. The MSCI Climate Paris Aligned Indexes shift the weight of their constituents from “brown” companies that cause environmental damage to “green” companies providing sustainable solutions.
Some companies are poorly positioned for the transition to a green economy, such as oil & gas businesses in the energy sector. In fact, a third of the current value of big oil & gas companies could evaporate if 1.5 degree alignment is aggressively pursued. To help manage this risk, the indexes aim to underweight high carbon emitters and lower their fossil fuel exposure.
Climate change is causing more frequent and severe weather events such as flooding, droughts and storms. For example, direct damage from climate disasters has cost $1.3 trillion over the last decade. MSCI’s Climate Paris Aligned Indexes aim to reduce physical risks by at least 50% compared to traditional indexes by reducing exposure in high-risk regions.
Together, these four considerations support a net zero strategy, where all emissions produced are in balance with those taken out of the atmosphere.
Green Investing in Practice
Climate change is one of the top themes that investors would like to include in their portfolios. As investors work to build portfolios and measure performance, these sustainable indexes can serve as a critical reference point.
Available for both equity and fixed income portfolios, the MSCI Climate Paris Aligned Indexes are a transparent way to implement a green investing strategy.
Decarbonization 101: What Carbon Emissions Are Part Of Your Footprint?
What types of carbon emissions do companies need to be aware of to effectively decarbonize? Here are the 3 scopes of carbon emissions.
What Carbon Emissions Are Part Of Your Footprint?
With many countries and companies formalizing commitments to meeting the Paris Agreement carbon emissions reduction goals, the pressure to decarbonize is on.
A common commitment from organizations is a “net-zero” pledge to both reduce and balance carbon emissions with carbon offsets. Germany, France and the UK have already signed net-zero emissions laws targeting 2050, and the U.S. and Canada recently committed to synchronize efforts towards the same net-zero goal by 2050.
As organizations face mounting pressure from governments and consumers to decarbonize, they need to define the carbon emissions that make up their carbon footprints in order to measure and minimize them.
This infographic from the National Public Utility Council highlights the three scopes of carbon emissions that make up a company’s carbon footprint.
The 3 Scopes of Carbon Emissions To Know
The most commonly used breakdown of a company’s carbon emissions are the three scopes defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a partnership between the World Resources Institute and Business Council for Sustainable Development.
The GHG Protocol separates carbon emissions into three buckets: emissions caused directly by the company, emissions caused by the company’s consumption of electricity, and emissions caused by activities in a company’s value chain.
Scope 1: Direct emissions
These emissions are direct GHG emissions that occur from sources owned or controlled by the company, and are generally the easiest to track and change. Scope 1 emissions include:
- Company vehicles
- Chemical production (not including biomass combustion)
Scope 2: Indirect electricity emissions
These emissions are indirect GHG emissions from the generation of purchased electricity consumed by the company, which requires tracking both your company’s energy consumption and the relevant electrical output type and emissions from the supplying utility. Scope 2 emissions include:
- Electricity use (e.g. lights, computers, machinery, heating, steam, cooling)
- Emissions occur at the facility where electricity is generated (fossil fuel combustion, etc.)
Scope 3: Value chain emissions
These emissions include all other indirect GHG emissions occurring as a consequence of a company’s activities both upstream and downstream. They aren’t controlled or owned by the company, and many reporting bodies consider them optional to track, but they are often the largest source of a company’s carbon footprint and can be impacted in many different ways. Scope 3 emissions include:
- Purchased goods and services
- Transportation and distribution
- Employee commute
- Business travel
- Use and waste of products
- Company waste disposal
The Carbon Emissions Not Measured
Most uses of the GHG Protocol by companies includes many of the most common and impactful greenhouse gases that were covered by the UN’s 1997 Kyoto Protocol. These include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, as well as other gases and carbon-based compounds.
But the standard doesn’t include other emissions that either act as minor greenhouse gases or are harmful to other aspects of life, such as general pollutants or ozone depletion.
These are emissions that companies aren’t required to track in the pressure to decarbonize, but are still impactful and helpful to reduce:
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCS): These are greenhouse gases used mainly in refrigeration systems and in fire suppression systems (alongside halons) that are regulated by the Montreal Protocol due to their contribution to ozone depletion.
- Nitrogen oxides (NOx): These gases include nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and are caused by the combustion of fuels and act as a source of air pollution, contributing to the formation of smog and acid rain.
- Halocarbons: These carbon-halogen compounds have been used historically as solvents, pesticides, refrigerants, adhesives, and plastics, and have been deemed a direct cause of global warming for their role in the depletion of the stratospheric ozone.
There are many different types of carbon emissions for companies (and governments) to consider, measure, and reduce on the path to decarbonization. But that means there are also many places to start.
National Public Utilities Council is the go-to resource for all things decarbonization in the utilities industry. Learn more.
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