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Copper’s Future: Powering Sustainability, Fueling Growth

Africa's Role in Copper's Green Revolution Unveiled

by Adenike Adeodun

Copper stands at the forefront of the global transition towards sustainable energy, acting as a cornerstone for the green revolution. Its conductive properties, pivotal for harnessing and distributing renewable energy, place copper in a critical position amidst evolving ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) considerations and supply chain dynamics. Tarren Bolton delves into insights from Dorcas Nhlapo, a Senior Audit Manager at BDO South Africa, to explore the future paths and challenges that lie ahead for the copper industry, especially within the African context.

The importance of copper in the mining sector has been significantly highlighted in recent reports, with a major focus on critical minerals. According to the 2023 PwC Mine Report, copper transactions dominated the mining deals, reflecting a robust growth forecast for the metal. This burgeoning demand, driven by the global push for a low-carbon economy, positions copper comparably to oil in terms of strategic value. However, this comparison also surfaces concerns regarding the sustainability of copper production, especially under the looming shadow of a potential supply shortfall.

Nhlapo emphasizes the necessity for a balanced approach that doesn’t sacrifice responsible production for market dominance. This entails fostering dialogues among stakeholders, enhancing supply chain transparency, and implementing certification programs to promote environmentally and socially responsible practices. Furthermore, she underscores the importance of including local communities in decision-making processes and ensuring regulatory frameworks are strengthened to uphold ESG principles.

The challenges of global copper supply are manifold, with significant implications for major producers and consumers alike. Geopolitical tensions, regulatory discrepancies, and environmental impacts complicate the copper supply chain, calling for collaborative efforts across the industry to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and comply with sustainability standards. Nhlapo suggests increasing transparency in reporting direct and indirect emissions and leveraging technology and service providers to address these challenges.

Africa’s potential role in the copper market is both significant and yet underrealized. Despite housing key copper-producing countries like Zambia and South Africa, the continent has remained at the margins of the global supply chain. Addressing this requires tackling inherent challenges such as political instability, regulatory uncertainties, and infrastructural deficits. Nhlapo advocates for increased investment in infrastructure, research, and exploration to unlock Africa’s copper potential. She also calls for the continent to enhance its smelting and refining capabilities, thereby adding value to its copper resources and fostering economic growth.

In conclusion, copper’s journey towards sustaining the world’s energy future is fraught with challenges yet brimming with opportunities, especially for Africa. Strategic planning, collaborative efforts, and a steadfast commitment to ESG principles are crucial for navigating the evolving landscape of copper production. By addressing supply chain vulnerabilities, environmental impacts, and infrastructural needs, the copper industry can engrave a legacy of sustainability and prosperity for the world.


Source: Mining Review

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