In this article, we discuss the top 15 copper-producing countries in the world. To skip the detailed analysis of the copper industry, go directly to the Top 5 Copper Producing Countries in The World.
Copper is one of the most commonly used and important metals in the world. According to Data Bridge Market Research, the global copper market size was around $304.79 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $453.756 billion in 2029 at a CAGR of 5.1%. China is the world’s largest consumer of refined copper in the world. It consumed 52% of the global copper volume in 2021.
Like most industries, copper was also significantly affected by the pandemic. Compared to 2019, copper mining experienced a 2.9% decline in 2020, due to labor shortages, supply constraints, and mine closures. However, due to high demand paired with supply constraints, the copper market boomed in 2021 and crossed $10,000 per metric tonne in May 2021. The metal reached its peak at the end of March 2022, to $10230.89, and dropped substantially to $7651 at the end of October. The decline in prices came due to weaker demand from China since April 2022.
In 2021, $88.6 billion worth of copper was exported from 25 countries across the globe, representing a 52.1% increase on a YoY basis. Chile was the leader with $26.7 billion worth of exports, representing approximately 30% of all the exported copper ore.
Copper has always had a high demand for electronics due to its malleability and high conductivity. Moreover, the demand for copper is expected to increase as the world moves towards renewable energy sources and the electrification of vehicles. According to International Energy Agency, the global copper demand could double by 2040.
Top Copper-Producing Companies
The Chilean government-owned company Codelco was the world’s largest copper-producing company with 1.78 million metric tonnes of copper produced in 2021. Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (NYSE:FCX) came in second to the Chilean company after producing 1.21 million metric tonnes. BHP Group Limited (NYSE:BHP), Vale S.A. (NYSE:VALE), Teck Resources Limited (NYSE:TECK), and Newmont Corporation (NYSE:NEM) are some of the other notable names in the copper mining industry.
In this article, we selected the 15 countries that produced the most amount of copper in 2021. We arranged them in ascending order of their production in 2021. Furthermore, we also mentioned the copper reserves and the future outlook of copper production in these countries.
Production in 2021: 263,990 metric tonnes
Mongolia is home to Oyu Tolgoi, one of the largest gold and copper deposits in the world. Furthermore, according to Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO), it is one of the safest and most sustainable projects in the world. It produced around 163,000 metric tonnes of copper in 2021 and is expected to operate till 2052. In addition, the project has still not reached its full capacity yet, which is due in 2028. After that, the Oyu Tolgoi mine is set to become one of the world’s largest copper and gold-producing mines.
In 2021, Mongolia exported approximately $3 billion worth of copper, accounting for 3.4% of global copper exports. Mongolia is the key copper exporter to China and exported 335,000 metric tonnes of copper to the country in the first quarter of 2022. With the current advancements in the Mongolian mining industry, the country is on its way to becoming the fifth-largest copper producer by 2030.
Production in 2021: 391300 metric tonnes
Poland is the world’s leading country in electrolyte copper production. The country exported $5.97 billion worth of copper in 2021, making it one of the leading copper exporters in the world. Moreover, the country has around 36 million tonnes of copper reserves. Rudna mine is the country's largest mine. It produces copper and silver ores and is owned by KGHM Polska Miedź S.A.
On November 11, KGHM Polska Miedź S.A reported that the Polish metallurgical production of copper was 442.5 kilotonnes, while the mined production was 334.4 kilotonnes in the three quarters of 2022.
Production in 2021: 403,300 metric tonnes
Mining is one of the major contributors to the Brazilian economy and is substantially responsible for the country’s positive balance of trade. In 2021, the company exported $980.81 million worth of copper. The mining giant Vale S.A. (NYSE:VALE) is a Brazil-based company that owns the largest and most significant mines in the country.
The Salobo Mine in Para was the largest copper-producing mine in the country in 2021, producing 191,700 metric tonnes of copper. The mine is owned by Vale S.A. (NYSE:VALE), which is one of the biggest mining companies in the world. The Sossego Mine was able to produce around 86,000 metric tonnes of copper in 2021, making it the second-largest mine in the country. It is also owned by Vale S.A. (NYSE:VALE).
Production in 2021: 520,000 metric tonnes
Kazakhstan produced 520,000 metric tonnes of copper in 2021. Aktogay Project in East Kazakhstan produced 136,400 tonnes of copper in the year making it the largest copper-producing mine in the country. It is owned by the British company KAZ Minerals plc. The mine is expected to exhaust by 2045. Furthermore, KAZ Minerals plc also owns Kazakhstan’s Orlovsky mine, Irtyshsky mine, and Artemyevsky mine.
According to Fitch Solutions, Kazakhstan is expected to produce 776,100 tonnes of copper in 2022, 803,270 tonnes in 2023, and 830,580 tonnes in 2024. The increasing copper production is owed to KAZ Minerals’ recent expansion plans and the new mining project, the Koksay copper mine, which the company recently started with China Nonferrous Metal Mining Group.
Production in 2021: 590,000 metric tonnes
The Highland Valley Copper Mine produces the most amount of copper in Canada, with 130,500 metric tonnes produced in 2021. The surface mine is located in British Columbia and will be able to continue its operations till 2040. Other than British Columbia, the provinces where copper is produced are Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, and Quebec.
In 2021, Canadian copper exports were $4.1 billion with US$10,314 per exported ton. Canadian miners are to potentially enter into agreements with the U.S. military to fund key mineral projects, especially in the Ring of Fire area which contains reserves of copper, among other minerals.
Production in 2021: 726,379 metric tonnes
Copper is the backbone of the Zambian economy and accounts for 75% of Zambia’s total export earnings. Zambia produced a record high of 800,192.27 metric tonnes of copper in 2020, which declined by 4.5% to 726,379.19 metric tonnes in 2021. The Zambian Mopani Copper Mines produce the majority of the country’s copper and are the most significant copper deposit in Africa, producing approximately 88,000 metric tonnes of copper in 2021. Lumwana mine is another important mine in Zambia and is owned by Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:GOLD).
In 2021, Zambia exported $8.44 billion worth of copper in 2021. According to the UK investment firm SP Angel, the new Zambian president Hakainde Hichilema is focusing on increasing investments in the country and wants to triple the country’s copper output over the next decade.
Production in 2021: 734100 metric tonnes
In 2021, Mexico produced 734.1 kilometric tonnes of copper. The nation has almost 53 million metric tonnes of reserves. Buenavista del Cobre Mine in Sonora is Mexico’s largest mine, producing 327.3 kilotonnes of copper in 2021. The mine is owned by Grupo México, S.A.B. de C.V. (OTC:GMBXF). Mexico exported $3.42 billion worth of copper ores and concentrates in 2021.
According to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, Mexico’s copper production declined by 1.4% in July 2022, compared to the same period last year. The decline was faced by the country’s mining industry as a whole due to mine closures, operation delays, and lower ore grades. It is estimated that the total decline in copper production is expected to reach 4% by the end of the year.
Production in 2021: 810,000 metric tonnes
Indonesia is one of the world’s top copper-producing countries and it produced 810,000 MT of copper in 2021. The mine that produces the most copper is Grasberg Block Cave Mine, located in Papua, which produced 295.5 thousand tonnes of copper and an estimated 26.4 million metric tonnes per annum (mmtpa) of Run-of-Mine (ROM) in the year 2021. The mine, estimated to run out of the commodity by 2041, is owned by PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium.
As per the remarks of the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, the country may ban the export of copper in 2023 to improve the resource processing industry. Indonesia, being one of the top copper-producing countries, exported 2,235,454 tonnes of copper ore worth $5.4 billion in 2021.
Production in 2021: 817,700 metric tonnes
Australia has the second largest copper reserves in the world, second only to Chile at 93 million metric tonnes. In 2021, Australia produced 817,700 metric tonnes of copper, compared to 879,500 metric tonnes in 2020.
Copper exports account for about 10% of Australia’s revenue. In 2021, 50% of the exports by Australia were made to China, followed by Japan and South Korea. Furthermore, copper exports are expected to grow to 977 kilotonnes by 2023-2024, compared to 2021-2022’s forecast of 807 kilotonnes.
Olympic Dam copper-uranium-gold deposit has one of the largest copper deposits in Australia. It is owned by BHP Group Limited (NYSE:BHP). In FY2022, the mine produced 138.4 kilotonnes of copper, down from 205 kilotonnes in FY2021. Prominent Hill in South Australia and Girilambone in New South Wales are also some of Australia’s significant copper deposits.
Production in 2021: 820,000 metric tonnes
Russia produced 820 kilo metric tonnes of copper in 2021. Russian copper production reached a peak of 883 kilometric tonnes in 2012 and fell to 705 metric kilotonnes in 2017. The country has around 62 million metric tonnes of deposits.
Udokan deposits are Russia's largest and the world’s third-largest deposits with over 26 million metric tonnes of copper reserves. The industrial mining on the deposit started in August 2022. The deposit is owned by the Russian company, Udokan Copper. It expects to start exports from the project in 2023, with China as its biggest buyer.
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