BHP’s Vision: From Overcoming Turmoil to Copper Market Dominance


The pursuit of copper dominance has propelled BHP Group into the spotlight of the metals industry, with its bold bid for Anglo American Plc marking a potential turning point. Amidst global shifts towards electrification and ambitious climate goals, the demand for copper has surged, prompting innovative strategies and transformative acquisitions. BHP’s strategic shift under CEO Mike Henry reflects a determined effort to overcome past challenges and position the company as a dominant force in the copper market.

BHP’s Bold Bid for Copper Dominance

The metals industry is buzzing about a potential £31 billion ($39 billion) takeover bid of Anglo American Plc by Australian giant BHP Group Ltd. However, apparently, Anglo has rejected the offer, arguing that it undervalues the company significantly.

If the deal goes through, BHP would become the world’s leading producer of copper, a critical metal in the rapidly electrifying world. To achieve ambitious climate goals, BloombergNEF suggests a fourfold increase in copper consumption, which seems daunting. To address this, three strategies are being considered:

  1. Recycling: Increasing recycling rates could alleviate the copper shortage. Redwood Materials, a prominent battery recycler, plans to expand its operations, aiming to recover more copper alongside other valuable metals, potentially reducing the carbon footprint of batteries.
  2. Reducing Usage: As the world transitions to cleaner energy, there’s potential to reduce copper demand through technological innovations and substitution with cheaper alternatives like aluminum. However, the extent of substitution remains uncertain.
  3. Increasing Supply: Innovations in copper extraction, such as Jetti Resources’ hydrometallurgical approach, could unlock vast reserves of low-grade copper ore, previously considered economically unviable. This could significantly boost copper supply.

These strategies aim to address the growing demand for copper, driven by the transition to cleaner energy sources, particularly in electric vehicles. However, challenges remain in balancing demand, supply, and environmental concerns in the metals industry.

BHP’s Strategic Shift: From Turmoil to Transformation in Pursuit of Copper Dominance

When Mike Henry assumed the role of CEO at BHP Group in 2020, the company was facing challenges and had lost some of its former confidence due to past missteps and pressure from activist investors like Elliott Investment Management.

Within 20 months, BHP announced significant transformations, including divesting its oil and gas business, streamlining its structure, and approving a major potash mine project in Canada.

Despite past setbacks in pursuing major deals, BHP gradually regained momentum, culminating in a $6.4 billion copper acquisition. Behind these seemingly disparate moves lay a consistent objective: to bolster BHP’s copper business with a transformative deal, dubbed the “Big One.”

Now, with the proposal to acquire Anglo American Plc for $39 billion, BHP aims to solidify its position as a dominant player in the copper market. The proposal, however, faces challenges and uncertainties. Critics question the feasibility of the complex deal, especially regarding regulatory approvals and managing potential risks. Additionally, the emergence of Elliott as a significant shareholder in Anglo adds another layer of unpredictability.

For Henry, this proposal represents the fruition of years of strategic planning. His detail-oriented and logic-driven approach, coupled with extensive industry experience, has positioned BHP to pursue this ambitious deal. However, obstacles remain, including convincing Anglo’s stakeholders, navigating regulatory hurdles, and addressing potential political sensitivities in South Africa.

While uncertainties loom, BHP is expected to refine its proposal and make further attempts to secure Anglo’s acceptance. The involvement of Elliott signals potential future developments in the mining industry, hinting at broader restructuring and consolidation. Regardless of the outcome, the landscape of the global mining sector seems poised for significant change, with Anglo likely to undergo transformation, whether through a deal with BHP or other means.

Challenges in the Copper Market: Shortages, Investments, and the Role of Acquisitions

Copper prices skyrocketed to $10,000 per ton shortly after news broke of BHP Group’s attempted acquisition of Anglo American Plc, shedding light on a significant issue within the industry: a shortage of new mining projects.

Despite the eagerness of major producers to expand copper production to meet growing demand from electric vehicles, grid infrastructure, and data centers, substantial investments in developing new mines and associated infrastructure are lacking. While BHP’s proposed $39 billion acquisition aims to enhance its position as a leading copper producer, it alone won’t address the global supply shortfall.

Existing mines are expected to experience a significant decline in production in the coming years, and fulfilling the industry’s supply needs would require investments exceeding $150 billion between 2025 and 2032, according to CRU Group. The scarcity of high-quality deposits, dwindling funding for exploration, rising social and environmental opposition to mining, and escalating costs are exacerbating the underinvestment issue.

Investors are driving the surge in copper prices, anticipating future shortages and speculating that mining companies, rather than investing in new projects, will opt for acquisitions. While the market is currently adequately supplied, the long-term outlook is bullish, with analysts predicting unprecedented price levels in the coming years due to growing shortages.

Building new mines is a lengthy process, and decisions hinge on whether future copper prices will justify the investment. According to industry experts, copper prices would need to reach $12,000 per ton to incentivize spending on new projects. However, securing funding from investors remains a challenge, with past trends indicating a preference for dividend increases over capital expenditure.

Chinese investment has played a significant role in the mining sector over the past decade, but its contribution to supply growth is expected to decline in the coming years. While China has influenced markets for other battery metals, such as nickel and lithium, its capacity alone is insufficient to address the copper industry’s supply challenges.

In summary, the copper market faces a pressing need for additional mine capacity, presenting a formidable challenge for mining companies. Despite recent price gains, addressing the supply gap will require substantial investments and overcoming various hurdles in the industry.


In conclusion, BHP’s bold bid for copper dominance encapsulates the dynamic landscape of the metals industry, characterized by shifting demands, strategic maneuvers, and looming challenges. Whether through acquisitions, innovations, or sustainable practices, addressing the pressing need for copper supply requires concerted efforts from industry stakeholders. As BHP navigates uncertainties and hurdles in its pursuit, the outcome of its endeavors will not only shape its own trajectory but also influence the broader trajectory of the global mining sector.

This information is based on the articles analyzed and reported by ThePlatform’s analysts team:

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