Of All the metals known to humanity, perhaps the most the human race owes to, for its success and prosperity is Copper. This metal through the ages has been man's companion reinventing itself each time to further the cause of human evolution. It finds use in making Jewelry, it is used as a building material, it is used to make utensils, it is used in water purification systems, historically and also presently it is used to make currency coins. Its alloys bronze and brass are important industrial metals and find use as machinery components, its compounds are used in making medicines, to make insecticides, to make colour pigments and is also used in the manufacture of pyrotechnics. The most important use of copper, however, is in the transportation of Electricity, the production and consumption of which incidentally is the distinguishing feature of the current state of human evolution.
The metal has been purified and used by the human race for nearly 6000 years. With its use progressively evolving from making utensils and Jewelry to transport electricity in the present age. The demand for this metal has never slowed down during the evolutionary history of mankind. Even today as mankind takes its first steps into a new phase of the evolutionary cycle, it is doing so on the back of this metal.
Copper through the age of Electricity
The two most important applications of Electricity are motive force and light. Human productivity and consequently, its prosperity has increased manifold due to the use of the above two. It is not that there was no motive force or light before the advent of electrical lighting or electrical motive force, but the pace with which its availability and usage multiplied in the electrical age has never been seen before in the many ages of human evolution.
When electricity first started to be used for commercial applications, the focus was not much on efficiency or containing environment pollution and degradation. The state of the industry was too small then and the principal method to make electricity was by turning off electrical dynamo in an electricity generator which again was fueled by more conventional fuel sources like coal or oil. These conventionally fired power plants though causing a lot of pollution weren't much of a problem then. The focus then was growth, every means at disposal than was exploited to fuel the ever-increasing hunger of electrical energy and with it grew the demand for copper. However, as human development continued at an exponential rate, it reached a phase when it became difficult for the conventional means of producing power to be environmentally sustainable. Smoke soot and other purged elements from the process of electricity production became a threat to human habitation itself. Again more evolved methods were investigated to get around this problem and so that we may continue with our pace of development while limiting its impact on nature and environment. While, with this change of focus, the spotlight has started to shift from coal or oil as fuel source means the importance of electricity and as a consequence, the importance of copper has only increased.
It is not that electricity cannot be produced without copper winding of dynamos; man has successfully been able to produce electricity chemically. The range of batteries available today powering anything from wristwatches to electric cars is an example of how much effort has been made to develop and evolve decentralized power production and storage sources; the latest in this effort are fuel cells, that promise medium to large scale production of electricity through chemical means. However, all this has not managed to put any dent on the demand of copper, which still remains the preferred means to transport electricity. In fact, these decentralized means have only helped to evolve the use of Electricity and consequently fuel the growth in demand for Copper.
Electrical Vehicles and Renewable energy
As we stepped into the new millennium, the human race understood that we have to shun our conventional ways of living as it started to become unsustainable. The first casualty of this way of living has been the environment; millions and millions of vehicles burning petroleum-based fuels in internal combustion engines produce significant amounts of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, unburnt fuel soot and other such harmful substances which make the breathable air around us noxious. We had to find new ways to meet our transportation needs without which our development would start stagnating very soon. To our rescue again have come electricity and the electrical motor which promise to provide clean and silent automation.
With the advent of the most energy-efficient batteries using materials like lithium-ion, it now became possible to produce vehicles which can replicate the performance of conventional internal combustion powered vehicles and that too using fuel sources that are far widely available and less environmentally polluting. Countries like India, China, United States and other advanced and developing countries which had been dealing with the twin problems of high petroleum import bill with that of air pollution, have started seeing it as a godsend gift and a panacea to these ailments. Significant numbers of battery-powered electric vehicles are being produced in these countries with the effect that their costs have started to become competitive compared to petroleum-fueled conventional vehicles. Again at the centre of this new phase evolutionary phase of transportation is copper in the form of an electric motor with copper windings.
There has also been an increased focus lately on the use of Renewable energy, as it is more environmentally friendly and makes use of renewable resources like wind and sunlight, which won't run out of stock. The evolution of this form of power production requires decentralized setups to take advantage of localized availability of resources which would otherwise become very expensive to transport to a centralized production facility. Here also a large number of small to medium-sized electrical generators will be required, which would make use of significant amounts of copper.
Antofagasta Plc is a Chilean copper producing company. Other than copper, the company also mines gold, molybdenum and silver. The company is also into the business of production of copper cathodes and transportation of mined and other production-related materials through rail and road.
The shares of the company have their listing on the London Stock Exchange where these shares trade with the ticker name ANTO. The shares of the company also are a part of the FTSE 100 index.
The company on 4 November 2019 came out with an update on the production operations at its Los Pelambres and Antucoya mines in Chile.
- The company reported that all its mines are now back in operation after a phase of unrest that had gripped the Chilean region.
- The phase of unrest and the subsequent loss of operation at Los Pelambres will have an impact on the production of around 10,000 tons of copper for the full year of 2019.
- The negotiations with the labour unions at the Antucoya facility have been successful. They had gone into a strike from 16 October 2019 and there is now a resumption of work there. The loss of copper production at this facility is estimated to be around 4,000 tons.
The company revised its total production target for the year to 750,000-770,000 tons in place of 750,000- 790,000 tons guided previously.
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