In one of the most pessimistic pieces I've read, Simon Hunt at Simon Hunt Strategic Services predicts on Mineweb.com a global recession starting in 2013, driving copper prices down by 90% from their peak. [right, native copper. Credit, USGS]
"Copper prices will be conditioned by these developments. Peak prices for 2011 will be experienced in the first quarter of the year, if they have not already been seen. Prices will then fall until around the start of the fourth quarter, hitting a low of some $5500. According to Hunt, recovery will follow rising parabolically in 2012 to some $14,000 by the end of next year.This will signal the end of the gaming of copper prices. A return to global recession, deflation and the destruction of large end uses of copper will see prices crashing to levels long since forgotten - to under $1500 by 2016. It will be at that point that the real restructuring of the industry will take place. Future trend growth rates for world refined copper consumption will be below 2% a year implying that marginal producers will be closed down."