At the same time that copper demand is growing due to the energy transition, and end-users are looking to get their hands on long-term supply, the global supply pipeline has thinned due to a history of shrinking exploration budgets and a dramatic slowdown in the number of new deposits. The bottom line is that copper exploration budgets have not managed to generate a meaningful increase in major new discoveries and most of the copper that’s currently produced every year comes from assets that were discovered during the 1990s. So, we have a major supply side question mark that should support copper prices.
The prospects for copper are also seeing support from renewed speculative interest that has been evident for several months, with global trading activity showing signs of recovering from a long slump. Not surprisingly, this boost in speculative interest from funds has accompanied a sizeable recovery in the price of copper itself. Both the LME and CME registered consistent year-on-year volume growth over the back end of 2022, which has continued into 2023.
Gold is doing exactly what we expected it would this year, rising solidly after a year of price consolidation against a background of extreme volatility and losses on equity markets in 2022. Demand for gold has also reached its highest level in over a decade on the back of colossal purchases made by central banks, as well as vigorous retail investor buying and slower ETF outflows.
World Gold Council (WGC) data shows that central bank demand for gold has rebounded strongly, with net purchases rising by 1,136 tonnes valued at some $70 billion in 2022, the World Gold Council (WGC) said on Tuesday. This level of purchase the most in any year dating back to 1950, and the 13th consecutive year of net inflows. This data underlines a shift in attitudes to gold since the 1990s and 2000s, when central banks, particularly those in Western Europe that own a lot of bullion, sold hundreds of tonnes a year. Central bank purchases in the fourth quarter were 417 tonnes, which almost matched the entire 2021 totals (450 tonnes).
Resource Sector v Tech Sector Valuations
it is interesting to compare the value of the world’s biggest mining companies versus the world’s biggest tech companies. The top 5 most valuable tech firms were worth a collective $4.55 trillion at the start of 2023, down $2.9 trillion over the past year, but still well above the combined value of $454 billion for mining’s top tier. To put things into perspective, Apple’s market capitalisation alone – even after shedding nearly $750 billion in value during 2022 — you can buy the world’s 50 most valuable mining companies, the next 50, and still have enough left over to snap up three years of global copper mine production and buy 2022’s seaborne iron ore. It will be interesting to see if we see a changing in the balance of these respective valuations as the renewable energy boom kicks into gear.