Well you said this
"The point was (and is) that there isn't any rational point in pursuing those other methods because simply mining natural copper is still cheapest approach comparatively"
And thats why I'll never be a republican or believe in reganomics.
The thought that we just consume and consume a resource because it is the cheapest option, because all we ultimately care about is the bottom-line, margin and profit - Then wake up one day and find that all the resource has gone and we have made no provision for the future - is not what I stand for.
Afterall, if it was left to the republicans - we would have no wind, solar, geothermal, fusion, fission, hydrothermal, hydrogen, fuel cells...we would just keep drilling the oil and keep denying were screwing the atmosphere.
In the end, margin and profit only work for a short time , before you one day wake up broke.
I think you've misunderstood.
First, if we some particular resource starts to become more scarce (i.e., we start running out) then its price will rise. That price increase is a signal to all consumers of the resource to conserve. The price rise is also a signal to producers to find ways to find more. Both of these actions result in finding more and using less. This dynamic then results in lower prices (again). which may then result in increased demand which can restart the cycle all over again ad infinitum.
Second, the pricing of resources reflects how we should be consuming because built into that price is all of the resources that must be expended in order to produce and deliver it. In other words it provides a mechanism for rational economizing and conservation of resources.
Finally, I'm not going to address or get into the political baiting I'm simply trying to illuminate what we've actually seen happen over hundreds (even thousands) of years.