The copper business development manager of Rio Tinto, Matthew Holcz feels that planned copper mining projects would be unable to meet the demand for the metal in the next decade.
Speaking at an industry conference in London he said that the probable copper mining projects would be able to support annual demand growth of only 3% by 2020 at the current rates.
If the demand increased by 5% each year for copper there will be a global shortage by 2020. Almost 80% of global copper consumption comes from freshly mined sources with the rest being made up of recycling scrap.
The International Copper Study Group had estimated a demand rise for copper by 3.81% this year and 4.49% next year in a report it submitted earlier in October. This would make it obvious that if copper is to be mined only from the known and planned resources it will not be enough to meet the great demand for the pinkish metal.
Rio Tinto controls some of the largest copper mines in the world with stakes in Escondida in Chile and Grasberg in Indonesia. It also owns the Bingham Canyon mine in Utah and has a stake in Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi project.
Copper however is 100% recyclable without any loss of quality whether in a raw state or contained in a manufactured product. Copper is the third most recycled metal after iron and aluminium. It is estimated that 80% of the copper ever mined is still in use today.