3 Copper ETFs To Buy in 2022: Invest in EV Battery Metals

The green economy needs more copper, which is used in everything from electric cars to wind turbines and solar panels. Copper prices have doubled since the pandemic lows, and many industry experts believe that supply and demand dynamics will continue to be favorable. Here is a list of three funds that invest in copper.

SustainFi   Updated December 14th, 2021

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Why invest in copper?

Copper is a very popular metal. The most cost-effective conductive metal, it is widely used in construction, transportation, electricity generation, and electronics. Copper is already key for renewable energy and electric vehicles. An electric car contains four to five times as much copper as a gasoline-fueled car. And solar energy requires 11 lbs of copper per KW of power generated, twice as much as conventional power.

Copper prices have doubled since the pandemic low, from under $5,000 to nearly $10,000 per ton. Even so, investment strategists at Goldman Sachs said that copper prices could reach $15,000 per ton in 2025, driven by the metal’s use in green technologies.

Future demand is projected to exceed supply. The lack of past investment in copper mining means that few new mines are going into production, yet demand is expanding. And it takes as long as ten years to bring a new mine into operation, so any new exploration will take a while to bear fruit.

What are the risks of investing in copper?

However, there are risks to investing in copper, too. China is the world’s largest consumer of copper, buying about half of the total output. So, even with the green revolution, the metal will be vulnerable to an economic slowdown in China.

Another risk is that if prices stay high, copper substitution with metals like aluminum could increase. Although aluminum isn’t as good as copper at conducting electricity, a prolonged period of high copper prices could encourage more markets to look for alternatives.

How to invest in copper

You can pick copper mining stocks, buy an ETF made up of copper mining stocks, or invest in the metal itself. Picking individual stocks can be difficult because stock prices depend on idiosyncratic factors like governance, exposure to other metals, geopolitical issues, or accidents at a particular mine.

🔔 Looking for copper mining stocks? Check out this list of 15 copper mining companies.

However, three funds can help you invest in copper through a basket of mining stocks or copper futures. (Investing in futures is an indirect way of investing in the metal. It is also easier to invest in a fund than to buy futures on your own.)

What ETFs invest in copper?

There are several funds that invest in copper or copper mining stocks:

  • United States Copper Index Fund (CPER)
  • GlobalX Copper Miners ETF (COPX)
  • iPath Bloomberg Copper Subindex Total Return ETN (JJC)

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The best copper ETFs

Fund / TickerInvestmentsExpense RatioAssets ($m)2021 Performance
United States Copper Index Fund (CPER)Copper futures1.08%24218%
GlobalX Copper Miners ETF (COPX)Copper mining stocks0.65%1,50028%
iPath Bloomberg Copper Subindex Total Return ETN (JJC)Copper futures0.45%7920%

Learn more about each fund.

The United States Copper Index Fund (CPER)

  • Investments: copper futures
  • Expense ratio: 1.08%
  • Assets: $242 million
  • 2021 performance: 18%

The United States Copper Index Fund (CPER) is a way for investors to bet on copper prices through futures contracts. Copper futures are among the most actively traded metals futures contracts, but trying to buy futures directly is complex.

CPER uses a quantitative optimization process to pick which futures contracts to buy each month. The process was developed by Summer Haven Index Management. However, the cost of the fund is high at 1.08% ($108 annually on a $10,000 investment.)

The fund, managed by USCF Investments, trades on NYSE Arca and has over $240 million under management. It’s up about 18% in 2021 through December.

GlobalX Copper Miners ETF (COPX)

  • Investments: copper mining stocks
  • Expense ratio: 0.65%
  • Assets: $1.5 billion
  • 2021 performance: 28%

By far the largest copper ETF, the GlobalX Copper Miners ETF (COPX) invests in roughly 30 copper mining companies. COPX gives you exposure to mining stocks, not to copper directly. To invest in COPX, you don’t need to know much about copper futures or how the ETF selects futures contracts.

The fund from GlobalX ETFs has $1.5 billion in assets and costs 0.65%. Its holdings include the top copper producers like BHP Group, First Quantum, and Glencore. And, because copper mining is a global business, COPX’s top countries are Canada and Australia, which are home to many copper mining companies.

The fund is up 28% in 2021.

iPath Bloomberg Copper Subindex Total Return ETN (JJC)

  • Investments: JJC tracks an index of copper futures
  • Expense ratio: 0.45%
  • Assets: $79 million
  • 2021 performance: 20%

The smallest fund on the list, the iPath Bloomberg Copper Subindex Total Return ETN (JJC) tracks the Bloomberg Copper Subindex Total Return, giving you exposure to copper futures contracts. The ETN costs 0.45%, has $79 million in assets, and returned 20% in 2021.

However, JJN is not an ETF but an ETN, which is a form of debt issued by a bank, in this case, Barclays. Unlike an ETF, which buys and holds the underlying securities, an ETN doesn’t own anything. The Note’s backer (in this case, Barclays) promises to pay the return of the underlying futures contract. Since the ETN does not hold securities, it can match the return of the contract perfectly, eliminating tracking error. However, the ETN carries the credit risk of the issuer, so if Barclays goes bankrupt (which seems unlikely), investors may not get their money back.

💰 Which copper ETF is best?

  • GlobalX Copper Miners ETF (COPX) is the only, and therefore the best, copper mining stock ETF.
  • If you want to invest in copper futures, you can choose between CPER and JJC. Although the ETN structure is generally not the best, we like that JJC costs only 0.45% vs. 1.08% for CPER. 

NOT INVESTMENT ADVICE. The content is for informational purposes only; you should not construe any such information as investment advice.

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