Modeling copper demand in China up to 2050: A business-as-usual scenario based on dynamic stock and flow analysis

In this paper, we develop a dynamic stock model and scenario analysis involving a bottom-up approach to analyze copper demand in China from 2005 to 2050 based on government and related sectoral policies. The results show that in the short-term, China's copper industry cannot achieve a completely circular economy without additional measures. Aggregate and per capita copper demand are both set to increase substantially, especially in infrastructure, transportation, and buildings. Between 2016 and 2050, total copper demand will increase almost threefold. Copper use in buildings will stabilize before 2050, but the copper stock in infrastructure and transportation will not yet have reached saturation in 2050. The continuous growth of copper stock implies that secondary copper will be able to cover just over 50% of demand in 2050, at best, even with an assumed recycling rate of 90%. Finally, future copper demand depends largely on the lifetime of applications. There is therefore an urgent need to prolong the service life of end-use products to reduce the amount of materials used, especially in large-scale applications in buildings and infrastructure.

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