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Top 10 Copper Producers by Country (Updated 2024)

Copper prices have not been immune from the market volatility impacting most commodities over the past year, especially on the back of weakened demand from China.

Time will tell when the price of copper will once again reach the record level it hit in the first half of 2022, but analysts are forecasting a return to strong copper demand in 2024.

For investors interested in the red metal, it’s worth looking at copper production by country. According to the latest US Geological Survey data, global copper production reached 22 million metric tons (MT) in 2023.

Chile again took the crown to become the top copper producer last year, but some of the others on the list may surprise you. Read on to find out which nations made the grade and what is driving each country’s copper output.

1. Chile

Mine production: 5 million MT

Copper production in Chile declined slightly between 2022 and 2023, landing at 5 million MT last year — about 23 percent of the total global copper output.

Not surprisingly, many of the world’s top copper miners have significant operations in Chile, including state-owned Codelco, BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BHP), Anglo American (LSE:AAL,OTCQX:AAUKF), Glencore (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) and Antofagasta (LSE:ANTO,OTC Pink:ANFGF). For 20223 Chile’s production was at a 15-year low on continued lower feed grades and water shortages as well as declining investment.

However, Chile’s copper production is expected to rebound to record levels in 2025, according to S&P Global, to hit a projected 6 million MT as new mines ramp up their output.

2. Peru

Mine production: 2.6 million MT

Peruvian copper production was up year-on-year, climbing 150,000 MT from 2022’s total of 2.6 million MT. While output was hampered by anti-government protests and road blockades earlier in the year, copper production activities in Peru did normalize later in the year. The country’s Energy and Mines Minister Oscar Vera has said the government has also worked to reduce mining project approval times from two years to six months.

The main copper operations in Peru include Anglo American’s Quellaveco mine and Southern Copper’s (NYSE:SCCO) Tia Maria mine. The majority of copper produced in the country is shipped to China, with some of the other top export destinations being Japan, South Korea and Germany.

3. Democratic Republic of Congo

Mine production: 2.5 million MT

Copper production from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rose by 150,000 MT from 2022 levels to reach 2.5 million MT in 2023. One major copper asset on the rise in the DRC is Ivanhoe Mines’ (TSX:IVN,OTCQX:IVPAF) Kamoa-Kakula project, a joint venture the company shares with partner Zijin Mining Group (OTC Pink:ZIJMY,SHA:601899).

The DRC has increased its copper production rapidly in recent years and now accounts for more than 11 percent of global mine output. With many more projects in the pipeline nearing completion, the Congo is on track to eclipse Peru for the number two spot in copper production.

4. China

Mine production: 1.7 million MT

China, the world’s largest copper consumer, took fourth place for global copper production in 2023. To meet copper demand from its construction and transport sectors, the country relies on copper imports. China’s output decreased by 240,000 MT from 1.94 million MT in 2022. Zijin Mining Group is a leading metal producer in China, and it owns the Zijinshan copper-gold mine and the Shuguang gold-copper mine.

However, when it comes to refined copper production, China is by far the winner. Its refined copper production totalled 12 million MT in 2023. This represents more than 44 percent of global refined copper production, and is six times as much production as Chile, the next top refined copper producer.

5. United States

Mine production: 1.1 million MT

Taking fifth place in terms of copper production by country is the US, which saw its copper output drop by 10 percent in 2023. Most of the country’s production comes from Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Michigan and Missouri; 17 of the 25 mines that processed copper accounted for 99 percent of the country’s mine production.

According to the US Geological Survey, the decrease in US mined copper output can be attributed to a variety of reasons, from unplanned maintenance and lower grades to weather events and geotechnical issues.

The US also ranks among the top 10 exporters of copper into the global market, mainly in the form of ores and concentrates, but also as refined copper.

6. Russia

Mine production: 910,000 MT

Ssixth on the list of top copper-producing countries, Russia’s copper production decreased slightly in 2023, down from 936,000 MT in 2022.

One of the biggest copper operations in Russia is the Udokan deposit in Siberia, which is currently owned by Udokan Copper (previously named Baikal Mining Company). The deposit made headlines in 2018, when it was revealed that the company was looking to raise US$1.25 billion to develop a mining and metallurgical plant at the project. The company launched copper concentrate production at its mining and metallurgical plant in September, 2023.

7. Indonesia

Mine production: 840,000 MT

Indonesia’s copper production increased dramatically from 734,000 MT in 2021 to reach a total of 941,000 MT in 2022. However, last year that figure dropped by 101,000 MT.

The country’s largest copper mine is the Grasberg block cave mine located in Papua and owned by Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX) subsidiary PT Freeport Indonesia. The company currently has mining rights until 2041; however, Freeport is engaging with the Indonesian government with regards to extending its mining rights beyond that year.

8. Australia

Mine production: 810,000 MT

Australia’s copper production last year was nearly on par with the previous year’s 819,000 MT of output.

One of Australia’s largest copper operations is BHP’s Olympic Dam copper-uranium-gold operation in South Australia, which maintains a strong stance as the fourth largest copper deposit in the world, although it may be better known for its uranium.

Also worth noting is Queensland’s Mount Isa complex, run by a subsidiary of Glencore. It is one of Australia’s largest copper producers, and the two copper mines that operate out of Mount Isa collectively process 6.5 million MT of ore each year.

9. Zambia

Mine production: 760,000 MT

Copper production fell last year in Zambia, which ranks ninth in terms of copper production by country; its 2023 output of 760,000 MT was down by 10,000 MT. This follows a significant dive from 2021’s production of 842,000 MT. There are four major mines that dominate the country’s copper production, including Barrick Gold’s (TSX:ABX,NYSE:GOLD) Lumwana and First Quantum Minerals’ (TSX:FM,OTC Pink:FQVLF) Kansanshi.

Mopani Copper Mines is another major copper producer in the country. While the company was previously owned by a joint venture between Glencore and First Quantum, the Zambian government — which previously held a 10 percent stake — took complete of ownership it in 2021.

10. Mexico

Mine production: 750,000 MT

Coming in 10th place is Mexico, whose 2023 copper production rate changed little from the previous year’s total of 754,000 MT.

One of the biggest copper mines in Mexico is Grupo Mexico’s (BMV:GMEXICOB) Buenavista del Cobre operation in Sonora, which is by far the country’s largest copper-producing state.

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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