Copper: A strategic raw material for the energy transition

By Quentin de Hults, Director General, International Copper Association Europe (pictured)
Summer 2024

Quentin de Hults, Director General, International Copper Association EuropeCopper is indispensable in the journey toward electrification, energy efficiency, and the adoption of renewable energy technologies. Copper plays a crucial role with its high electrical and thermal conductivity, corrosion resistance and ductility, in addition to being fully recyclable.

In the EU, copper demand is projected to grow by 35% by 2050, driven by its necessity in achieving climate neutrality. The copper industry is committed to enhancing mining, refining, and recycling capabilities while reducing greenhouse gas emissions to contribute to a resilient and climateneutral EU economy.

Copper: the 'Big Picture'
The copper value chain has a robust presence in the EU, backed by a diversified import strategy that aligns with the Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) benchmarks. Through extensive mining, refining, and recycling operations within the EU, the industry ensures a stable supply of copper, which is crucial for strategic net-zero value chains.

Strong trade agreements and strategic partnerships also help diversify import sources and mitigate supply risks. These efforts collectively enhance the EU's resilience and competitiveness in the global market while upholding high environmental and community development standards.

Copper Sector is Ready to do More
ICA members are advancing projects to expand mining, processing, and recycling capacities both within the EU and abroad. These initiatives aim to strengthen the EU's supply chain resilience and support climate goals.

By increasing mining and refining operations and boosting recycling efforts, ICA members contribute to securing essential raw materials while adhering to stringent environmental and community standards. Their commitment to sustainability includes the goal of achieving net zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, further strengthening the EU’s strategic raw material value chains.

ICA members also adhere to internationally recognised responsible operating practices and sustainable development standards, particularly The Copper Mark, providing a comprehensive social and environmental assurance program for copper production.

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ICA Europe's policy priorities for 2024-2029 include:
1. Making the resilience and competitiveness of strategic net zero value chains a political priority.
2. Establishing a stable regulatory framework to attract investments in strategic raw material value chains.
3. Streamlining permitting processes within the EU and building stronger partnerships outside the EU.
4. Ensuring access to competitively priced, fossil-free energy.
5. Promoting effective policies for electrification, energy efficiency, and renewable energy, particularly in buildings and transport.

These priorities aim to support the EU's climate-neutral and resilient economy. Let's work together! ICA Europe is interested in your views.
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