Ready ore not, here comes a copper shortage

For centuries, we’ve been wasting copper — now it’s coming back to bite us.

New anxiety just dropped: we’re running out of copper — and that’s a big problem, not just because it means fewer lucky pennies.

Per Fortune, we need copper to build things like water pipes, computers, and phones. Not to mention electric vehicles, and solar and wind power infrastructure.

Making matters worse…

… we’ve been wasting precious copper resources for thousands of years:

  • When ore is pulled from the earth, metal is extracted; anything too difficult or expensive to process is discarded.
  • In the last decade, an estimated 43m tons of copper — worth $2T+ — has been mined but left unprocessed.

Companies are digging up solutions

Jetti Resources — a startup backed by some of the world’s biggest miners, and recently valued at $2.5B — aims to repurpose all that previously discarded ore.

Enter the rock-munchin’ microbes:

  • A common type of ore traps copper behind a thin film, where existing mining methods can’t reach it.
  • Jetti’s tech uses a chemical catalyst to break through that layer, and microbes eat the rock to release the copper.

If the mining OGs are ready to share their rocks, tech like Jetti’s could produce 8m additional tons of copper each year by the 2040s.

That’s a lot of lucky pennies.

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