For Australia to embrace its clean energy future, significant upgrading of the electricity grid is required. However, for that to happen the nation must enhance its copper production and invest in copper mining.

This is the claim from global management consultancy Partners in Performance, which is calling for renewed Australian investment in copper to strengthen the grid.

Australia has the second largest reserve of copper in the world, behind Chile, but only ranks sixth for production of the soft and ductile metal. It is vital to the delivery of electricity and water, and as the nation transitions to widespread renewable energy sources such as solar, electric vehicles and hydro, demand for copper will exponentially rise.

According to Michael Huggins, director, Australia and New Zealand, at Partners in Performance, copper, lithium and cobalt are the most important commodities in Australia’s journey to net zero.

“To meet [future] energy transition needs, the Australian Government must act now to address global copper shortages,” he says.

“Failing to do so will see it struggle to secure supply and face hyperinflated costs on the open market, driven by global demand.

“Both major parties have focused on investments in renewable energy technology without adequately thinking about how that energy will be delivered.

“All the hydrogen, solar and wind energy in the world isn’t any good if we can’t get it to people.”

The current global copper shortage is expected to intensify as the world transitions to renewable energy en masse, heightening the need for Australia to invest in mining the metal.

“Electrical grids rely on copper and there is currently a global copper shortage,” says Huggins.

“This scarcity is only going to get worse as countries around the world wrestle to meet sustainability demands.

“Australia has extensive copper reserves, and this is a win-win for policymakers that we are not capitalising on.

“Australia must approve copper mining operations now to avoid having to go to the open market – 2050 sustainability goals are empty promises without copper to enhance the grid.”