The unique benefits of copper, such as resistance to corrosion and excellent conductivity, benefit many key industries in all industrialized nations. Foremost among these industries is electronics. Copper wire is employed for its excellent electrical properties everywhere electricity is employed. Also near the top is copper tubing, used for a huge variety of heat transfer applications such as air conditioning and refrigeration. Copper piping is lightweight and corrosion resistant, rendering it a good choice for water lines. Applications in industries such as electronics and air conditioning demonstrate just how widespread its use has become.
Copper is a Plentiful Resource
The total poundage for all known copper in the world is slightly under six trillion pounds. That is eight thousand four hundred Empire State Buildings. Gather up all those skyscrapers into one place and what do you have? -A Variable mountain the size of New York City, over six hundred million square feet standing almost fifteen hundred feet high. That is a lot of copper folks! And it is far more than the entire global economy could use in a century at the present rate of consumption. Only 12% of that huge block has been mined out of the earth up until this point in history, with a whopping 88% remaining waiting to be extracted. And that is just what we know about.
The Volatility is From Wall Street!
One of our trusted suppliers recently told us that 97% all copper that has been "bought" has been on paper in the commodities market. Better put, "… 97% of the volatility has come from Wall Street," not from actual industrial supply and demand. In other words, investors are using it as a commodity stock rather than utilizing it in an actual product. The price goes up and down with the stock market unrelated to its actual use. If Wall Street lost interest and investors thought some other commodity could be a safer bet, the price would fall dramatically. Wall Street sees the orange metal as a safe bet, not a risky one. Of course, there is no problem with investors buying commodities. The problem is when people believe that because the price is rising the earth is running out of supplies or that mankind is "raping" the earth of its resources. No, folks. This is just the present-day market, not squeaky wheels in our copper mines.
It Will Remain Plentiful For Centuries
In 2007, the annual sale of raw copper in the US was at nine billion and at the time of this writing it seems that demand is increasing in Asia, causing higher prices in the United States. But will it last? Investors have turned to Gold in much the same way. Gold is also used as a hedge against losses in other stocks. But when the stock market crashed in late 2008, the price of both metals went down with everything else. This is because investors were selling off their precious metals in order to recoup their losses from stocks. What does this mean? It means that commodity prices rise and fall with most everything else and are not the hedge of protection touted by the sellers of these commodities. But the central point of this article is to reassure manufacturers and buyers of copper products that the volatility of prices is not necessarily due to the weakness of an industry or the rarity of a material. Rather, it is due to copper being seen as a "commodity item" since 2001.
Coupled with the very high rate and ease of recycling, the market should have ample supplies for at least a hundred years if not a millennia.