Some of the metals produced, shipped and processed by the base metals industry include aluminum, copper and zinc. Of the base metals previously listed, aluminum counts as the most important non-ferrous metal, as well as the most abundant metal found in the earth’s crust. Aluminum is largely used in the transport and construction industry, as well as within engineering and packaging industries. The country with the highest smelter capacity is China. China’s largest producer of aluminum is China Hongqiao Group. The company was ranked as the world’s largest aluminum producing company in 2015, having produced over 4.4 million metric tons that year.
Another industrially vital base metal is copper. Copper (and its alloys) have various uses; it is principally used as an electrical conductor in wires and cables, and also finds use in roofing and plumbing. Brass, a copper and zinc alloy, is used widely for musical instruments. In 2012, copper mine production amounted to more than 16 million metric tons worldwide, with Chile producing over 5.4 million tons of copper that year. Chile is also home to the world’s largest producing copper company: Codelco (Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile. In 2016, the Chilean company Codelco produced over 1.8 million metric tons of copper.
Zinc sees many end uses, including galvanizing and chemical production, and is key in the production of brass and bronze. Zinc mine production is attributed in great part to China: In 2015, the country’s mines produced approximately 4.9 million metric tons of zinc. That year, global zinc consumption amounted to over 13.8 million metric tons in total.
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