Short answer: on average about a hundred years. T
This makes copper a very long-term business as recently mentioned by Freeport's CEO Richard Adkerson in an interview with Bloomberg.
The chart below is an extract from the compendium accompanying the global tailings review - see page 17 of the pdf. A life of over a hundred years is equivalent to ~25 strategic planning cycles or political mandates. It means:
- Considering that growth in copper mining is a relatively recent phenomenon, few mines have gone through their full life-cycle yet. According to ICSG's mining database, there are 488 copper mines in operation, and only 23 mines have been closed. Mining closure is a developing practice with limited experience.
- It is important to have mining companies that are in this business for the long run as is the case for most ICA members. One member's mining history goes even back as far as the 16th century.
More information about the four stages of a mining project can be found on the page below from the University of Arizona's Superfund Research Center:
Last update: July 27, 2021