The copper price is set every working day at the London Metal Exchange and at various other exchanges such as New York COMEX or the Shangai exchange. For investment purposes, it is useful to look at average annual prices and even 10-year rolling average prices covering a typical business cycle. The USGS provides a long time series for copper prices since 1900 which allows us to calculate a 10-year rolling average price from 1900.
The price increase from 357 $ in 1909 to 9,477 $ in 2021 (or 270 $ to 6,803 $ for the 10-year averages) looks very significant, but it is well below the cumulative inflation for that period. According to [Fizaine], the copper price even has declined in real terms from the beginning to the end of the 20th century.
When looking at the nominal data for the past 20 years, it shows how a 10-year rolling average copper price provides better information for making long-term investment decisions into copper production.
- Data: https://help.copper.fyi/hc/en-us/article_attachments/4456393964178/20220215-HistoricCopperPrice.xlsx
- Fizaine, Floriant, and Xavier Galiegue. 2021. Mineral Resources Economy 1: Context and Issues. John Wiley & Sons.
Last update: February 24, 2022