Metals such as nickel and copper are at the heart of the revolution taking place in the automotive industry. Nickel is used in the construction of batteries for electric vehicles; while copper is essential for the wiring of electric vehicles and their charging stations, as well as being used for other renewable energy infrastructures, in telecommunications, electronics and construction. Both metals are therefore destined for a dizzying increase in consumption due to the transition from fossil fuels, the increasingly strict regulations and the increase in consumption of electric vehicles in more and more countries.
These factors strongly stimulate demand and the imbalance between supply and demand does nothing but raise prices, in fact a 34% increase in nickel prices and + 47% for copper between 2020 and 2021. Yesterday the ceo di Trafigura, Jeremy Weir, warned about the possibility of significant deficits for copper, nickel and cobalt as global demand increases.
An increasingly robust demand which is a trend that appears destined to continue in the long term in light of the current dynamics that see these metals as essential to carry out the energy transition. “Global markets will need four times the nickel and double the copper in the next 30 years,” he argues Vandita Pant, Chief Commercial Officer of BHP, based on some of the forecast models prepared by the mining giant.
The mining and metallurgical companies of the main producing countries of these metals (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Australia, Indonesia, Chile and Russia) will therefore be under pressure to increase the supply and support the global demand for these metals to make possible a decarbonised world.
“Traceability and sustainability will be some of the main customer requirements from now on,” added Pant of BHP, a company that recently conducted its first cargo of zero-emission copper from Chile to the United States. The company also achieved with Tesla a program of blockchain traceability to track the carbon emissions of its nickel mine in Western Australia.
The road is long to go and there are many challenges to face, this stimulates the research and development of sustainable and alternative technologies such as recycling andcircular economy which can satisfy the increase in demand while reducing the environmental impact.
The thirst for EV cars grows
Meanwhile, in Europe from 2035 the sale of internal combustion engines will be banned, giving further free space to electric vehicles.
Electric cars are already gaining significant market shares in Europe. In 2020, sales of electric vehicles increased by 41% while at the same time sales of conventional ones decreased by 6%, signaling a strong interest in this segment by both consumers and investors (with the boom in stocks such as Tesla, Nio, XPeng and more recently Rivian and Lucid Motors).