On modelling the global copper mining rates, market supply, copper price and the end of copper reserves
Harald U. Sverdrup
Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir
Summary, in English
The world supply and turnover of copper was modelled using simple empirical estimates and a COPPER systems dynamics model developed for this study. The model combines mining, trade markets, price mechanisms, population dynamics, use in society and waste as well as recycling, into a whole world system. The degree of sustainability and resource time horizon was estimated using four different methods including (1) burn-off rates, (2) peak discovery early warning, (3) Hubbert's production model, and (4) COPPER, a system dynamics model. The ultimately recoverable reserves (URR) have been estimated using different sources that converge around 2800 million tonne, where about 800 million tonne have already been mined, and 2000 million tonne remain. The different methods independently suggest peak copper mine production in the near future. The model was run for a longer period to cover all systems dynamics and delays. The peak production estimates are in a narrow window in time, from 2031 to 2042, with the best model estimate in 2034, or 21 years from the date of writing. In a longer perspective, taking into account price and recycling, the supply of copper to society is estimated to run out sometime after 2400. The outputs from all models put focus on the importance of copper recycling so that society can become more sustainable with respect to copper supply. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.