The presentation outlines the various factors behind the 25-fold increase in the copper resource base over the last hundred years – and shows that the industry is NOT facing a “peak metal” situation. It has data on discovery rates, head grades and mining costs from 1900 to 2009.
One provocative observation is that the large decline in copper head grades over the century (from 4% to around 1%) is not necessarily bad news (or an indication that we are running out of ore). Instead it is more to do with the fact that technology and economies of scale have enabled lower grade ore to be economically mined. This allowed companies to lower their cut-off grade – thereby expanding the available resource by a factor of six. The author argues that engineers and geologists acted as equal partners in growing the resource base over the last Century.
Assuming that we continue to explore and innovate, the world will not run out of copper anytime soon.