By Peter van der Borgh
As municipalities across Cyprus announce plans to become “smart cities”, we take a deep dive into this new model, and specifically what this means for the future of mineral exploration and investment.
Although the term “smart city” has become a buzzword in city planning departments over the past few years, it is often little understood.
Essentially, smart cities are urban areas that have become more efficient and/or more socially inclusive and/or more environmentally friendly through the use of smart technologies.
Smart cities collect data through different types of electronic methods and sensors about all kinds of things, including traffic, air and water quality, and solar radiation.
In this way, local authorities gain useful insights that help them solve the urban problems of housing, transportation, energy, and accessibility and promote sustainability.
Examples of smart city applications include air quality monitoring; water and wastewater monitoring; smart traffic lights that use analytics to reduce congestion; and street lighting control and monitoring to save on utility costs.
Over the past couple of years, the Municipalities of Nicosia, Paphos, and Limassol have, at different times, announced that they would invest in urban technology to make their cities smarter.
The use of advanced technologies and innovation to address pressing urban challenges is gradually becoming a priority for Cypriot cities, as they seek to improve the quality of life of their communities and reduce emissions.
This move goes hand in hand with the widespread adoption of 5G by the country, which can take the creation of smart cities from the theoretical to the practical by ensuring high-speed connectivity, low latency, better battery life and the ability to handle a massive number of connections.
In this context, copper plays a crucial role.
Smart cities of the near future require constructing new infrastructure built with sustainable and durable materials, such as copper.
Copper is at the heart of this revolution due to its high thermal and electrical conductivity, making it a key material for developing smart grids, EV charging infrastructure, 5G optical fibres, plumbing, lighting, and roofing buildings, among other things.
Demand for the metal is expected to almost double cumulatively over the next seven years as cities worldwide adopt smart city initiatives.
According to a recent global study conducted by the Martec Group, the total volume of copper in smart city technology is predicted to rise from 2.7 million tonnes in 2019 to 4.8 million tonnes in 2025.
Countries worldwide are starting to think about cities as systems rather than a collection of parts to become more efficient, resilient, safe, and more environmentally friendly.
With almost two-thirds of the world’s growing population expected to be living in cities by 2050, there is an urgent need to improve their sustainability and efficiency.
Therefore, since copper is indispensable for a wide range of smart city applications, demand for the metal is expected to soar even more than it already has.
Copper prices keep breaking records because of the green energy transition.
This comes at a time when analysts realise that the mining industry is faced with a looming supply crunch, as it would need to produce an extra 1m tonnes of the metal a year to meet governments’ net-zero emission targets.
In this environment of rising demand and dwindling copper deposits, Cyprus can play a key role in producing the red metal and hence the transition to smart cities, as it has significant high-grade copper deposits.
Mining company Venus Minerals has recently announced that its Magellan Project in north Troodos is estimated to have a combined resource inventory of 9.5 million tons at 0.65 per cent of copper with the additional value from gold, silver, and zinc.
Peter van der Borgh, exploration geologist and Managing Director of Venus Minerals