An exec of one the top mining firms in the world, BHP, was quoted on Tuesday as saying that 2017 represented the “tipping point” for electric vehicle adoption.
That exec — chief commercial officer Arnoud Balhuizen — argued that the first impacts of the expected mainstream embrace of electric vehicles would be observed in the metals market, with impacts to the oil market only being observed much later.
Notably, Balhuizen identified copper as the metal that would be most/first impacted — as most of the world’s copper mines are faltering in output and there have been no large discoveries in over two decades now. As a result, the BHP exec argued that supply will struggle to keep up with demand.
“In September 2016 we published a blog and we set the question — could 2017 be the year of the electric vehicle revolution?” commented Balhuizen. “The answer is yes … 2017 is the revolution year we have been speaking about. And copper is the metal of the future.”
Though, he also noted: “The reality is a mid-sized electric vehicle still needs subsidies to compete … so a lot will depend on batteries, on policy, on infrastructure.”
Reuters provides more: “Europe has begun a dramatic shift away from the internal combustion engine, although, globally, there are only roughly 1 million electric cars out of a global fleet of closer to 1.1 billion … BHP forecasts that could rise to 140 million vehicles by 2035, a forecast it says is on ‘the greener’ end.
“… The market, he said, may have underestimated the impact on the red metal: fully electric vehicles require four times as much copper as cars that run on combustion engines. BHP, Balhuizen said, is well-placed, with assets like Escondida and Spence in Chile, and Olympic Dam in Australia. BHP said last month it was spending $2.5 billion to extend the life of the Spence mine in northern Chile by more than 50 years.”
That’s a valid point about copper. Electric vehicles really do utilize far more copper than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles do. As a result, as electric vehicle sales climb, it does seem very likely that mining firms such as BHP will stand to benefit significantly.