A new report says copper will be the stand-out metal to watch for this year.
The White & Case 2021 survey found that 36 per cent of respondents expect copper to outperform other commodities, including gold (18 per cent), lithium (14 per cent) and nickel (12 per cent).
The law firm's 2020 survey made a similar prediction and was proved correct.
The metal, crucial in everything from electric cables to water pipes, jumped to the highest price in seven years after going on a nine-month winning streak prompted by increasing investor concern there would be a shortage of copper in the coming years, as constrained supply met soaring demand from new industries such as electric vehicles and green infrastructure and technology.
For miners like Glencore, copper's rally was especially good news especially as oil prices, a key cost input, also fell steeply, making the metal highly profitable.
A further boost for copper may come from Joe Biden's presidential victory in the US especially now his party controls the Senate, paving the way for a sizeable stimulus package with a decarbonisation agenda. Copper, nickel, cobalt and lithium-all critical commodities needed for the increased electrification of cities and batteries for electric vehicles-stand to benefit from an acceleration of the energy transition.
The report said Glencore was the only major mining company to have found a pathway to being carbon neutral by 2050 that includes all its own emissions. This is because it mines no iron ore and plans to be mostly thermal coal-free in 30 years.
"Still, its giant thermal coal operations remain a concern for many investors, despite the commodity trader providing a roadmap to eventually transitioning away from the dirtiest fuel," White & Case said.
A total of 45.4 per cent of respondents considered environmental, social and governance issues as the key risk for the mining sector in 2021.
"The forced departure of Rio Tinto's (chief executive) and other executives after the destruction of two ancient Aboriginal heritage sites also showed that this is an issue bigger than just climate change and pollution," the report said.
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