Australia must invest in copper to reach net zero

Large rolls of copper wire
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Government investment in green energy will be significantly undermined if Australia doesn’t secure the copper it needs to build a grid to support it, according to global management consultancy Partners in Performance.

“While the Federal Government referred to investments in microgrids in the recent federal budget, and the opposition promised to invest in renewable energy in its reply, neither major party has recognised the opportunity Australia has to become a leading global copper producer vital to supporting a renewable energy future,” the consultancy said in a statement.

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“Australia is currently the world’s sixth largest producer of copper, but we have the second largest copper reserves in the world. Copper is already essential to our everyday lives—primarily in the delivery of electricity and water. But as we look to renewable energy solutions, such as electric cars, solar and hydro energy sources, the increasing pressure on the electrical grid has made copper “the new oil.”

Having helped clients mitigate 36Mtpa CO2 emissions in the past 18 months, Partners in Performance believes that copper, alongside lithium and cobalt, is one of the most important commodities in Australia’s journey to net zero.

“To meet energy transition needs, the Australian government must act now to address global copper shortages,” Partners in Performance director of Australia and New Zealand Michael Huggins said.

“Failing to do so, will see it struggle to secure supply and face hyper-inflated costs on the open market, driven by global demand.

“Both major parties have focused on investments in renewable energy technology, without adequately thinking about how that energy will be delivered,” added Huggins.

“All the hydrogen, solar and wind energy in the world isn’t any good if we can’t get it to people.

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“Electrical grids rely on copper and there is currently a global shortage. This scarcity is only going to get worse as countries around the world wrestle to meet sustainability demands. At the same time, Australia has extensive copper reserves. This is a win-win for policy makers that we are not capitalising on.

“Australia must approve copper mining operations now to avoid having to go to the open market. 2050 sustainability goals are empty promises without copper to enhance the grid.”

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