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5 of the top ASX-listed copper stocks for investors to watch

Copper could see prices rise in future on the back of increasing demand from the clean energy sector. As the bourse of a resource-rich economy, the ASX offers a range of copper stocks.

Source: Bloomberg

As a mineral-rich economy, Australia's stock market offers a trove of stocks for investors to gain exposure to a broad range of commodities.

While Australia's mining sector is perhaps best known for its iron ore and coal exports, the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) is host to a range of copper-related stocks for investors who would like exposure to one of the world's most important industrial metals.

Why invest in copper?

Key segments of the Australian mining sector are likely to come under pressure in years to come, as concerns about climate change increase in countries around the world. Chief amongst these vulnerable sub-sectors is coal – a primary source of the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

Concerns over global warming, however, could boost the fortunes of other resources produced by Australian miners. Copper is one such commodity, given the critical role it plays as a highly conductive metal in clean energy technology, including renewable energy systems and electric vehicles.

In its Commodities Outlook from July 2023, Citi Research said copper had emerged as the leading bullish commodities trade, given that it features in every aspect of the modern economy's energy transition.

Citi Research forecasts that copper consumption in decarbonisation will grow to around 4.6 Mtps by 2030, driven by battery grid storage, electric vehicles and charging, and power generation.

According to Citi analysts, these three energy-related areas are set to rise from around 5% of copper consumption in 2018 to over 22% by 2030.

For these reasons, Citi expects equity investors to pile into the metal as the decade advances.

Consulting giant McKinsey is also upbeat about the long-term prospects for coppper on the back of efforts to transition to a low-carbon economy. It expects demand from power generation, EVs and electronic devices to drive the deficit in copper supply to 6.5 million MT by 2031, strongly favouring the fortunes of producers.

The top 5 ASX-listed copper stocks to watch

The ASX abounds in mining companies with copper operations for those investors who are interested in gaining exposure to this key industrial metal.

The first that are likely to come to mind are the huge mining conglomerates whose sprawling operations cover a vast range of different minerals and commodities. These include BHP Group and Rio Tinto.

The ASX is also host to junior miners with copper projects under development, such as Alara Resources Limited and Havliah Resources Ltd.

Finally, ASX-investors also have the option of taking stakes in 'pure play' copper companies whose entire operations are focused completely on the production of copper.

While such pure-play companies offer full exposure to copper, they are also more risk fraught given the lack of diversification into other resources that could offset any price declines in the industrial metal.

Here is a list of five of the top ASX-listed copper companies for investors to consider, including established miners, junior miners and pure-play copper companies.

1. BHP Group Limited (ASX: BHP)

2. Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO)

3. Alara Resources Limited (ASX: AUQ)

4. Havilah Resources Ltd (ASX: HAV)

5. Aeris Resources (ASX: AIS)

BHP Group Limited (ASX: BHP)

Melbourne-headquartered BHP Group Limited (ASX) is one of Australia's oldest mining companies, having its origins in the Broken Hill Proprietary Company that was founded in 1885 in the New South Wales' mining town of Silverton.

The company has mining operations spread across Australia, North America and South America, as well as petroleum operations in the US, Australia, the UK and Algeria. It currently focuses primarily on coal, copper, iron ore and petroleum.

BHP has highlighted the role of the copper it produces in the renewable energy sector. It holds a 45% stake in the Resolution Copper project in the US state of Arizona – one of the world's largest undeveloped copper projects.

Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO)

Rio Tinto Limited is the world's second-largest metals and mining corporation, with humble origins as a mine complex on the Rio Tinto sold by the Spanish government to private investors in 1873.

It is renowned as one of the world's leading producers of iron ore, while also producing aluminium and copper alongside a range of minerals that include titanium dioxide, diamonds and borates.

In 2022, Rio reached an agreement with the Mongolian government for the acquisition of Turquoise Hill Resources, while also advancing the co-development of project infrastructure at Simandou in Guinea with Chinese partners.

Rio Tinto holds a 55% stake in the Resolution Copper project in the US state of Arizona – one of the world's largest undeveloped copper projects.

Alara Resources Limited (ASX:AUQ)

Alara Resources Ltd is a junior mining company that focuses on the development of copper, gold and zinc projects in Oman and Saudi Arabia. Key projects include the Al Hadeetha Copper-Gold Project and the Daris Copper-Gold Project – both in Omam, and the Khnaiguiyah Zinc-Copper in Saudi Arabia.

The company anticipates a shift in growth in future, that will transform it from a developer into a profitable mid-tier producer.

Havilah Resources Ltd (ASX: HAV)

Havilah Resources NL is a junior mining company with a focus on projects in the state of South Australia, covering commodities including copper, gold, cobalt, iron ore and. uranium.

Havilah's flagship project is the Kalkaroo Copper-Gold Project - one of the larger undeveloped open pit copper deposits in Australia, host to 1.1 million tonnes of the industrial metal, alongside 3.1 million ounces of gold and 23,200 tonnes of cobalt.

Havilah's other major copper project is situated at Mutooroo, containing around 195,000 tonnes of the resource.

Aeris Resources (ASX: AIS)

Mid-tier base and precious metals producer AIS-AU has four major mining assets in Australia, three of which are focused primarily on copper.

These include its Tritton Copper Operations in central New South Wales; its Jaguar Zinc/ Copper Operations in Western Australia and copper operations at the Stockman Project in the East Gippsland region of Victoria.

AIS produced 51,000 tonnes of copper in the 2023 fiscal year, and has announced copper guidance of 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes for the 2024 fiscal year, as production ramps up at Tritton while Jaguar undergoes maintenance.

How to invest in ASX-listed copper stocks

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This information has been prepared by IG, a trading name of IG Australia Pty Ltd. In addition to the disclaimer below, the material on this page does not contain a record of our trading prices, or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instrument. IG accepts no responsibility for any use that may be made of these comments and for any consequences that result. No representation or warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. Consequently any person acting on it does so entirely at their own risk. Any research provided does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs of any specific person who may receive it. It has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such is considered to be a marketing communication. Although we are not specifically constrained from dealing ahead of our recommendations we do not seek to take advantage of them before they are provided to our clients.

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