Our figure of the month 07/2019: Chile's importance for e-mobility
In order to meet the conditions of sustainability, the mobility of the future will have to be climate and environmentally friendly. Electromobility is currently the means for the transport sector. The shift towards electrified mobility will not only reduce fuel consumption, it will also have a massive impact on demand for non-ferrous metals, including in particular the battery metals copper, nickel and lithium.
According to estimates by the International Copper Association (ICA), an electric car requires between 40 and 80 kg of copper, i.e. 20 to 60 kg more than a conventional combustion engine. This additional demand for copper results in a higher extraction of copper ores or in a higher recycling rate.
The largest copper extraction country is Chile. In 2017, 550 million tonnes of copper were extracted there (28% of the global production volume). Chuquicamata in northern Chile is one of the largest copper mines in the world.
The great importance of Chilean copper production for covering the worldwide copper demand is also reflected in its importance for the Chilean economy: with around 11%, copper mining dominates the domestic value added. 45% of exports are determined by copper exports. China and Japan each account for about 30% of Chilean copper's most important customers, followed by India and Korea.
Chile's dependence on its copper production is therefore high and is likely to increase further in view of the global electromobility offensives. On the one hand, this development increases Chile's (economic) dependence on this raw material. On the other hand, it opens up additional growth opportunities.
Together with the Universidad Adolfo Ibañez in Viña del Mar in Chile, GWS is working on a BMBF research project on the sustainability of copper mining in Chile, where precisely these economic dependencies are addressed. Further information can be found on the project webpage www.coforce.cl and at https://www.gws-os.com/de/index.php/wirtschaft-soziales/projekte/projektdetailseite/cu_cl.html.
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