Friday , 19 July 2024

Copper’s Largest & Most Important Producing Countries (4K Views)

Copper has long been one of the most important and popular industrial metals inCopper-USFS the world. With 3% per year production growth since 1900, approximately 16 million tons of the metal was produced in 2011, according to the International Copper Study Group. Below, we outline some of the largest and most important copper-producing nations across the world:

So writes Cory Mitchell ( in edited excerpts from his original article* entitled The World’s Biggest Copper Producers.

[The following article is presented by Lorimer Wilson, editor of and may have been edited ([ ]), abridged (…) and/or reformatted (some sub-titles and bold/italics emphases) for the sake of clarity and brevity to ensure a fast and easy read. This paragraph must be included in any article re-posting to avoid copyright infringement.]

Mitchell goes on to say:

1. Chile

  • State-owned Codelco (Comporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile) is the world’s largest copper producer, producing 1.75 million tons in 2012. According to the company, it controls about 9% of the global copper reserves.
  • In 2011, Chile as a whole accounted for more than 33% of global copper production, with total mine output of 5.3 million tons.
  • According to the Central Intelligence Agency, copper production accounts for about 19% of government revenue, making the Chilean copper industry one of the most important both domestically and globally (see also Ultimate Guide To Copper Investing).
  • Chile is also home to the 5th largest copper producer, Antofagasta (ANTO). The company produced 710,000 tons of copper in 2012. ANTO’s mines are located predominantly in Chile, and therefore, the company plays an important role in Chilean economics along with Codelco.

2. USA

  • The 2nd largest copper producer is Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold (FCX) based out of Phoenix, Arizona. Trading on the New York Stock Exchange, it is the largest exchange-traded copper producer, producing 1.33 million tons in 2012.
  • Overall, the USA is the 4th largest copper producer in the world, following Chile, China and Peru, and that global position is largely attributed to Freeport.
  • According to the US Geological Survey, U.S. mine production was valued at $9 billion, making it an important industry, but when compared to a national GDP of $15.66 trillion (CIA 2012 estimate), the industry has much less impact on the U.S. economy than it would on a country like Chile. Still, copper as a metal plays a huge role in infrastructure and is required input for many other industries within the U.S. economy (see also Copper Stocks To Play The Housing Recovery).

3. Switzerland

  • The mining firms Glencore and Xstrata were already copper giants, but they became even bigger when they merged in 2013, forming Glencore Xstrata (GLEN). The newly formed company doesn’t yet have a full year under its belt, but Q1 of 2013 showed copper production at 321,800 tons. If this production continues, 2013 production estimates are near 1.29 million tons.
  • While Switzerland is home to one of the largest copper producers, most of the mining takes place outside the country. The country isn’t dependent on copper production, although mining products as a whole are one of the country’s major exports and imports.

4. Australia

  • As a country, Australia is the 5th largest copper global copper producer. This is largely due to the fourth largest copper producing company, BHP Billiton (BHP), which is based out of Melbourne, producing 1.09 million tons in 2012.
  • According to Geoscience Australia, the Australian copper industry is worth about $6 billion, making it a prominent industry for the country with a GDP of close to $1 trillion. Other metals and natural resources are more prominent in the country, however, especially when it comes to exports. Coal, iron ore, gold, meat and wool are other major industries in the Australian economy.

5. Mexico

  • Grupo Mexico also deserves a mention as it produced 826,000 tons of copper in 2012. This would rank it as the 4th largest producer, but the production includes subsidiaries Southern Copper Corporation (SCCO) and the American Smelting and Refining Company.
  • With revenues of $10 billion in 2012 the, company is an important part of the Mexican economy, as is the mining industry as a whole [see also 13 Ways To Invest In Copper].

The Bottom Line

Copper is used in a multitude of products due to its metallic qualities, as well as its ability to be recycled and used again. The metal’s wide use is attributable to its availability and recyclability, as well is its metallic properties that make copper an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, and antimicrobial and corrosion resistant.

[Editor’s Note: The author’s views and conclusions in the above article are unaltered and no personal comments have been included to maintain the integrity of the original post. Furthermore, the views, conclusions and any recommendations offered in this article are not to be construed as an endorsement of such by the editor.]

* (Copyright © 2011–2013 Commodity HQ; Subscribe to our free daily commodity investing newsletter and follow us on Twitter @CommodityHQ.)

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One comment

  1. Great review of an important mineral that also plays a very strategic role in our modern world.

    I think Copper will now start to increase in value, since it is a limited resource and I suggest that it be now considered a “new” Precious Metal, instead of just another commodity metal used by industry!

    As first Gold and soon Silver jewelry becomes to “noticeable” to wear in public, especially since the numbers of desperate new poor are now increasing, I look to Copper becoming their replacement fashionable material, since like Gold and Silver, Copper is very easy to work by hand and that does not even take into consideration Coppers antimicrobial properties which will become ever more important in our ever more populated cities.

    If this proves correct, then adding the demand for fashion jewelry to the continuing industrial demands, the total amount of Copper consumed globally could start to increase rapidly, which would cause its value to soar as Copper becomes known as the poor mans Silver!