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Copper Shortages Coming?

Apparently a huge landslide has happened in an open pit mine that supplies 17 percent of US copper. Gun folks are already pretty good recyclers, but I think we can do better, and we’re going to have to do better. There’s only so much copper and lead in the world, and as we use up all the easy supplies, it’s not going to get anything but more expensive. A lot of clubs and ranges these days do lead reclamation, but many don’t. As the price of raw materials goes up, it’s going to become more and more important that we recover most of the lead and copper we shoot. It’s not only better for the environment, it’s just going to make economic sense once the raw materials hit a certain price point.

h/t Tam.

7 Responses to “Copper Shortages Coming?”

  1. DevsAdvocate says:

    The free market problem will be solved by a free market solution. Eventually the price of these metals will go up enough that it will be economically beneficial to collect brass and lead from ranges.

    The downside is ammunition costs.

    I suspect that in a generation or two, we’ll be going to polymer ammo sooner rather than later.

  2. Andy says:

    Seems to me there’s a market opportunity now. Not just casing, but jackets.

  3. Right Wing Wacko says:

    Even after the event, copper futures are down. China just isn’t using as much as it use to with their economy slumping.

  4. Sin Eater says:

    Maybe this is naive.
    They load the ore into huge dumptrucks and then refine it using conveyor belts and grinders.
    If the ore has already been crushed in the landslide and the landslide opened up more square meters of the hillside for inspection, doesn’t this make their job easier after a bit of cleanup? I mean they move tons of materials hourly……

    • Garrett Lee says:

      There are several problems.

      1) The landslide took out the road to the bottom of the pit – so you have to rebuild the road to get down there.

      2) The side of the pit has to be re-terraced to rebuild the mining benches – that’s going to take a while.

      3) The ore has to be crushed to a pretty small size – less than 100 micrometers. I don’t think the landslide pulled that off.

      4) I’m not sure about this one, but I think the landslide happened on a side that they’re not actively mining, because either there wasn’t ore on that face or because it was uneconomical to mine. If what went into the pit was all overburden and gangue, then there isn’t any valuable ore to recover.

      And thank you for asking – I knew it would be a problem, but you made me sit down and think, “why?” and made me look up a bunch of stuff. Thanks!

  5. Will says:

    What do you mean “better for the environment”?

    Lead is chemically stable in/on the ground. Doesn’t leech into water, travel through the ground, etc. Basically, it is inert.

    A study was done at Gettysburg on the subject. They decided to test there due to the large amount of mostly pure lead, that litters the battlefield, both on and under the surface. That and the known age of the lead “deposits”.

  6. Andrew says:

    Glad I sold all my shares in D’Anconia Copper back in 08.

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