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Two reports produced by the BloombergNEF (BNEF) research business unit of this global company indicate that non-ferrous metals markets are destined to run out of supply for the next decade or more.

While mining capacity is a key driver in the copper report and a secondary driver in battery metals (cobalt, lithium and nickel), forecasts point to continued high prices for recyclers and continued investment in battery recycling capacity. non-ferrous metals.

A mid-August Bloomberg summary of the copper report begins by stating, “The world may need to rely on new recycling technologies to avoid copper shortages as the shift to clean energy increases the demand for wiring metal.

The online article states that Sung Choi and his fellow analysts at BNEF predict that annual copper demand will “increase by 53% by 2040, mainly due to the electrification of transportation and infrastructure.”

On the supply side, BNEF analysts say primary supply could increase by just 16% thanks to the difficulty of expanding existing copper mines or creating new ones. Reducing a projected deficit of 5 million to 14 million metric tons by 2040 may be asking a lot of recyclers.

However, access to the red metal may already lead to increased investment in copper recycling in countries with developed economies. Ongoing recycled content copper investments in the United States include those of Igneo Technologies LLC in Savannah, Georgia; the installation of Aurubis AG in Augusta, Georgia; a factory in Shelbyville, Kentucky, being built by the Wieland Group; and Ames Copper’s recycled content anode plant in Shelby, North Carolina.

Bloomberg quotes BNEF analysts as writing, “Investing in recycling-related technologies, reducing costs and improving recovery rates from low-grade deposits could help bring new copper supply online to meet growing demand.

On its website, BNEF also hosts a late July blog post titled “Race to Net Zero: The Pressures of the Battery Boom in Five Charts”. As for copper, the BNEF points to “the surge in demand [that] faces supply constraints” for battery metals including cobalt, lithium, manganese and nickel. “Lithium, nickel and manganese could all experience technical supply shortfalls this year,” writes BNEF.

“The availability of raw materials is the biggest constraint for the production of lithium carbonate and hydroxide [and] the lithium industry may find it difficult to meet the growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs) unless new projects are launched quickly over the next two years,” adds BNEF.

Harvesting lithium from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries has been one of the most active areas of investment for several years. A recent investment in the sector in Kentucky initially involves $310 million, with the potential to grow to $1 billion.

Analysts also say that if cobalt is a bottleneck, nickel could be considered a substitute material. “The use of cobalt in lithium-ion batteries has evolved over the last three years due to the price increase recorded in 2018 and the ethical concerns of car manufacturers regarding the supply of artisanal miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo” , explains Kwasi Ampofo of BNEF. “These concerns have driven a shift to less cobalt-intensive battery chemistries, or those without cobalt.”

This, too, would likely require investment in recycling, as most nickel is currently turned into stainless steel and is recycled back to stainless steel in factories around the world. Nevada-based Aqua Metals is among several companies piloting a technology to make nickel sulfate from used batteries.

Without specifically mentioning recycling in the blog post, BNEF writes, “As demand for electric vehicle batteries increases, countries are racing to become more self-sufficient and build their own national supply chains.

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