Copper is assuming an increasingly important role as the commodity assisting the transition to a low carbon-emitting world.


Solar, hydro, thermal and wind energy generators use up to 12 times more copper than traditional energy generation sources. Urbanisation also continues to underpin demand for copper as new energy-efficient homes and commuter transport networks require more of the metal. 


Many countries are encouraging the take-up of electric vehicles, a mode of transport that needs four times more copper than combustion engines.


As demand continues to grow, an abundance of copper deposits has positioned Australia, and South Australia specifically, to supply global markets. 


Already a significant producer of copper through the Olympic Dam, Prominent Hill and Kanmantoo mines, South Australia also has potential to significantly expand output and introduce new supplies from projects in development. 


OZ Minerals expects to produce copper from its Carrapateena project before the end of 2019, and the South Australian Government has granted mineral leases to Havilah Resources and Rex Minerals for their copper projects.


New discoveries are crucial to underpinning further growth. BHP’s announcement of promising drilling results at its Oak Dam West prospect piqued global interest in South Australia as a copper exploration target.


With international eyes turning to the state, the State Government is set to host this year’s Copper to the World conference. Now in its third year, the conference and exhibition brings together Australia’s copper miners, service providers, scientists and policy makers to discuss the themes critical to the success of an expanding copper sector.  


The June 18 conference covers market outlooks, technological innovations, exploration initiatives and international perspectives of the copper industry. 


“Copper remains very much in demand around the world to support continued urbanisation trends and the uptake of renewable technologies,” South Australian Department for Energy and Mining Chief Executive Dr Paul Heithersay said.


“For South Australia, which has 65 per cent of Australia’s 87.5 million tonnes of economically demonstrated copper resources, that’s good news.


“Copper to the World participants will discover that proposed mine expansions, new mines and well-advanced projects continue to attract investment to South Australia that creates jobs and supports regional development.


“Global interest in copper is high, and participants at the June 18 conference will hear the latest ideas and trends from international experts.”


One of the highlights of this year’s conference is a presentation by Unearthed Solutions Industry Lead Holly Bridgwater on the new frontiers in mining data that are expected to lead to the next generation of copper discoveries. 


Ms Bridgwater has collaborated with OZ Minerals to run a unique crowdsourcing competition that asks geologists and data scientists from across the globe to develop groundbreaking approaches to discover new exploration targets.


International Copper Association Australia Chief Executive Officer John Fennell will also lead a session with representatives from Anglo America, OZ Minerals, BHP and Newcrest Mining to discuss new technology such as data analysis, drones and robotics that are revolutionising century-old mining practices. 


Copper to the World will be held in Adelaide on Tuesday June 18. 


To register online for this year’s conference and check out the full program of speakers, visit


For miners and contractors wanting to effectively engage with Aboriginal businesses and grow a regional workforce close to their operation, a masterclass is available before the conference on June 17.


Image: Dr Paul Heithersay