BHP Joins Global Hunt to Unearth the Serbian Copper Needed for Green Energy Boom
- 24-Jan-2023 3:02 PM
- Journalist: Patricia Jose Perez
Serbia: BHP, Australia's leading miner, has reached an exciting new agreement to explore for Copper in Serbia. This comes as the company strives to increase its presence in the metals essential to constructing electric cars and green energy technology.
Their partnership with Canada's Mundoro Capital gives them a chance to invest in the three exploration zones located in eastern Serbia's Timok region. Copper plays a major role in powering the world's clean energy revolution - it is used widely across electric vehicles, wind turbines and power grids' transmission lines.
“Mundoro welcomes BHP as an exploration partner that recognizes the potential of further exploration in the western Tethyan Belt,” Mundoro chief executive Teo Dechev said.
Major mining companies such as BHP and Rio Tinto have been working hard to diversify their offerings into the so-called "future-facing" commodities. These are key materials that will benefit from the global movement toward decarbonization.
BHP, renowned for its prolific iron ore production, is investing in Copper and Nickel - elements critical for nations aiming to electrify transportation and achieve zero net emissions. Electric vehicles require up to four more times Copper than combustion-engine vehicles, according to BHP, while Nickel is a key component of Lithium-ion batteries.
Last month, BHP signed a binding offer of $9.6 billion to acquire Oz Minerals, an Adelaide-based Copper and Nickel producer. The company has two Copper and Gold mines located near BHP's Olympic Dam mining hub in South Australia. If successful, this deal would be the biggest acquisition for BHP since it paid $US12 billion for US shale gas producer Petrohawk back in 2011.
BHP sold off its global oil and gas division last year to free up funds for more Copper and Nickel purchases. Nevertheless, the company is a notable producer of carbon-intensive fossil fuels with multiple coal mines in Australia, most of which are used for coking coal in steel making.
Rio Tinto's search for minerals of Copper and Lithium, particularly the $3 billion Jadar Lithium mine in western Serbia, encountered a major roadblock last year. Despite being expected to be the largest project of its kind in Europe, Serbia's government scrapped its permits after local communities voiced growing concerns about the potential environmental damage it would cause.
Despite the uncertain future of Rio Tinto's Serbian project, the company is still optimistic about the possibility of it coming to fruition. In December, Rio Tinto closed a multibillion-dollar agreement to acquire shares from Toronto-listed Turquoise Hill Resources to strengthen its involvement in the Oyu Tolgoi Copper and Gold Mine in Mongolia. Additionally, Rio Tinto recently purchased the Rincon Lithium brine project located within South America's renowned “Lithium triangle”.
Copper currently accounts for approximately 20% of BHP's profits, while iron ore forms the majority at 50%. Analysts predict that Copper could become an even larger proportion of earnings by 2030 - at least 40%.