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Exclusive: key figures from ICSG’s annual report on copper usage and recycling

Date

28 Apr 2009

Sections

Energy

The copper industry supported by recycling in Europe Brussels, 27 April 2009 – In 2007 copper has been used in increasing quantities around the world, according to the latest report by the International Copper Study Group (ICSG). Total usage reached 23.7 tonnes in 2007, up 5% on 2006. The copper recycling rate stayed above the average of the last few years with a particularly successful performance in Europe where 41% of copper usage was from recycling. Global copper usage in 2007: 23.7 million tonnes Copper is an essential material for society and its global usage therefore continues to grow; it reached 23.7 million tonnes in 2007, up 5% on 2006. Copper is used because of its unique properties – it is the best electrical and thermal conductor of the commonly used metals and it is both durable and antimicrobial. It is a key material for innovation in many sectors, such as renewable energy, improved energy efficiency, sustainable construction, transport for the future, and hospitals. Recycling has also grown; 8.2 million tonnes of recycled copper were used by the copper industry in 2007, representing an increase of 1% compared to 2006. Contrary to many other raw materials, copper is 100% recyclable indefinitely, without any alteration or performance loss. What do we mean by recycling? Copper recycling includes “secondary” copper sourced from products that have reached the end of their life such as valves and fittings, household equipment, computer equipment and electronic equipment, as well as the direct re-melting of factory off cuts. Copper recycling: an indispensable complement to primary copper production The constant increase in demand, which has risen by 134% since 1970, coupled with large raw material price fluctuations, make copper recycling an indispensable complement to primary production. The availability of recycled copper at competitive prices is now an economic necessity and a vital part of the copper value chain. “When copper prices rise, semi-finished product manufacturers are the first to be affected. The use of recycled copper, and in particular the direct re-melting of factory off cuts, enables them to optimise their production costs for products such as tubes and profiles. For many semi-finished products, 80% of the cost is linked to the raw material” explains John Schonenberger, Chief Executive of ECI. As global demand for copper has grown faster than recycling, recycled copper as a proportion of total usage has fallen slightly, to around 35%, although this figure is higher than the average for the last few years. This fall can also be explained by an activity boom in China in 2007, which required an increase in primary copper from mining. Recycled copper levels have therefore fallen from 43% in 2006 to 36% in 2007. In Europe, however, recycling has performed well, with 41% of copper needs being met by recycled products. European Copper Institute Irina Dumitrescu, Communication Manager Tel. +32 2 777 70 82 id@eurocopper.org Press contact Isabelle Verdeyen PRP/Public Relations Partners Tel. +32 2 761 08 17 iverdeyen@prp.be

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