Association unpacks likely copper demand trends driving growth up to 2040

15th April 2024 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Deputy Editor Online

Association unpacks likely copper demand trends driving growth up to 2040

Research commissioned by the International Copper Association (ICA) has found that copper’s future market share will be defined by regional trends and the green energy transition.

The research, which was undertaken by CRU Group, deems it likely that copper demand will grow from 28.3-million tonnes in 2020 to about 41-million tonnes by 2040, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.85%.

The strongest growth in copper demand is expected in India, with a CAGR of 7%, followed by Southeast Asian countries, with an anticipated CAGR of 6%.        

These countries currently have high growth rates in their manufacturing and construction industries.

Moreover, India and Southeast Asian countries are expected to experience the highest growth rates in wire rod demand. However, China is expected to remain the largest wire rod user.

“This demand, which is forecast to be primarily driven by the development of energy infrastructure, is expected to ensure that wire rod remains the largest segment of total copper demand at an estimated 25-million tonnes by 2040, constituting about 60% of total demand share over the long term,” CRU senior consultant Juan Brihet explains.

He also expects green applications to influence copper tubing demand.

Another piece of research commissioned by the ICA, which was undertaken by DMM Advisory Group, expects copper tubing to add nearly 1.6-million tonnes to copper demand from 2020 to 2040.

Air source heat pumps should be a significant contributing factor, with the research anticipating sales of these pumps will quadruple by 2040, from 13-million units in 2020 to 52-million units in 2040. DMM managing partner Krisztina Kalman-Schueler says heat pumps are an example of a growing energy transition market, and are an energy efficient, low-carbon, low-cost heating solution.

CRU anticipates that copper wire and cable will see a slight decrease in global market share from 2020 to 2040 owing to copper substitution.

The research finds that winding wire will decline from 88% to 86% of market share, with power cable market share decreasing from 64% to 59% and automotive low voltage electricity decreasing from 95% to 85% of market share.

“While the research finds wire and cable copper are expected to lose around 3% of the market by 2040, copper is predicted to retain an 80% of market share in the long term, and substitution will be offset by gains in total copper usage, primarily driven by growth in end-use applications and the green energy transition,” ICA global market intelligence director Colin Bennett states.

To provide further insight on the ICA-commissioned research on copper’s future market share and substitution, ICA will be hosting a panel discussion on April 16 as part of the CRU World Copper Conference 2024 in Santiago, Chile.  

The panel members will include Brihet, Kalman-Schueler and Southwire chief supply chain offer Charlie Murrah.

The panel will provide an informative session from key sector experts to discuss the work commissioned by ICA’s Market Outreach division, which is led by Bennet.

The panel will address the stabilisation of copper substitution in 2022 and 2023, as well as the outlook on copper’s global market share.