Copper - Statistics & Facts

Copper is a base metal like nickel, zinc, aluminum, lead, etc., and is indispensable for many industries. Total global copper production from mines amounted to an estimated 21 million metric tons in 2018. Major producing countries include Chile, Peru, and China. Chile produces nearly one third of the world’s copper, and is also by far the country with the largest copper reserves.

Accordingly, the second largest copper mining company worldwide is the Chilean company Codelco. This state-owned company reported copper production figures of 1.8 million metric tons in 2018. The first largest copper producer worldwide, with approximately 1.9 million metric tons in 2018, is the United States-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold. Other top mining companies like BHP Billiton and Glencore closely follow.

The United States is the world’s fourth largest producer of mined copper. In 2018, mine production of copper came to an estimated 1.2 million metric tons there. The largest copper mines in the U.S. are Morenci in Arizona and Bingham Canyon in Utah. Some 12,000 people are employed in U.S. copper mines and mills. The U.S. depends on imports to meet domestic copper demand. Most U.S. copper imports come from Chile and Canada.

Global copper consumption is steadily increasing, and currently stands at some 23.8 million metric tons. Forecasts for global copper demand show the same trend. Thus, prices have also increased rapidly over the last decade, reaching a record high in 2011. To meet these developments, the use of copper scrap for recycling purposes is now relatively high. Global production of refined secondary copper stood at approximately four million metric tons as of 2017.

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Demand and price

United States


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