History of use

Which country is the world leader in copper mining?

In 2022, copper production increased by 4% to 21,9 million tons, while refined copper production increased by 1% to 24,6 million tons. World consumption of refined copper amounted to 24,8 million tons, an increase of 1%. At the end of 2022, the market was in a state of intangible deficit in the amount of 231 thousand tons, which is less than 1% of annual consumption.

Copper market balance (thousand tons)

Sources: Company data

Industry structure of refined copper consumption

300 KT
In Russia, copper consumption amounted to
First redistribution (%)
End use by industry (%)
Sources: Company data
300 KT
In Russia, copper consumption amounted to


The high electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, ductility and corrosion resistance of copper determine a significant volume of its use in various fields of industry. Up to three quarters of all refined copper produced in the world is used in the production of electrical conductors, including various types of cables and wires. The main sectors of copper consumption are construction, production of electrical and electronic products, power generation, transport, mechanical engineering, production of various equipment and consumer goods. Copper is also one of the key metals for the production of renewable energy (solar panels, wind farms) and the electrification of transport (copper is used in batteries, wiring, electric motors and charging infrastructure).

In 2022, global consumption of refined copper was 24,8 million tons, up 1% from 2021.

China remains the leader in copper consumption with a share of 55% of global consumption. Despite strict quarantine measures throughout the year and then their lifting, China increased domestic consumption to 13,6 million tons, or +2% year-on-year. Imports of copper products to China increased in 2022, namely, imports of refined copper amounted to 3,7 million tons, or +7% year-on-year, imports of scrap were at 1,8 million tons, or +5%, imports of concentrates amounted to 25,3 .8 million tons, or +XNUMX% year on year.

In Europe and North America, consumption remained unchanged compared to last year and amounted to 3 million and 2,2 million tons, respectively, in Asia (excluding China) an increase of 2% was recorded, to 5,1 million tons. In the Russian Federation, copper consumption remained at the level of the previous year and amounted to about 300 thousand tons.


Global copper production in 2022 increased by 4%, to 21,9 million tons, as a result of the commissioning of new projects and the expansion of existing deposits.

The world leader in copper production, Chile, produced 2022 million tons of metal in 5,3, which is 5% less than the previous year. Peru, which ranks second in the world in metal mining, managed to increase production by 4%, to 2,4 million tons.

In Africa, production rose 18% to 3,4 million tonnes, primarily from mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

China increased production by 7%, to 1,88 million tons. In Indonesia, copper production increased by 26%, to 0,95 million tons.

In North America, production decreased by 2%, to 2,45 million tons: in the United States the increase was 1%, in Canada production fell by 10%, and in Mexico the fall was 1%.

Refined copper production also increased by 1% to 24,6 million tons. South and Central America produced 2,6 million tonnes of refined copper (-2% yoy) in 2022, Africa added about 12% yoy to 1,8 million tonnes, and Asia increased refined copper production by 2% yoy year-on-year, to 14,8 million tons, of which China added 2% year-on-year, to 10,6 million tons, and Japan – 3% year-on-year, to 1,5 million tons. Europe produced 3,5 million tons, down about 4% year-on-year, and North America produced 1,6 million tons (-1% year-on-year).

Edition INN publishes a ranking of countries that produce the most copper. Russia is in 6th place there.

In 2023, copper prices, like most commodities, were quite volatile due to weakening demand from China. Time will tell when the copper price will again reach the record levels recorded in the first half of 2022, but analysts are predicting a return to strong copper demand in 2024.

“Although the price range is likely to expand more than previously predicted when important market-moving news emerges, the annual average may not differ significantly from the 2023 level, but an improving economic situation should lead to this value increasing in 2024.” , – speaks Karen Norton is an independent metals and mining consultant.

According to the latest data from the USGS (United States Geological Survey), global copper production reached 2023 million tons in 22. Chile again won the title of the largest copper producer last year, but some of the other countries in the ranking may surprise you.

1 Chile

Production: 5 million tons

Copper production in Chile decreased slightly compared to 2022, reaching 5 million tons, or about 23% of total global production of the red metal. Unsurprisingly, many of the world’s leading copper producers are active in the South American country, including Chilean state-owned Codelco, BHP, Anglo American, Glencore and Antofagasta.

In 2022, production in Chile was at a 15-year low due to continued decline in rock quality, water shortages, and declining investment. However, according to forecasts by the American analytical organization S&P Global, copper production in Chile, due to the increase in production volumes from new mines, will reach a record level in 2025 of approximately 6 million tons.

Copper mining and transportation in Chile.

photo from open sources

2. Peru

Production: 2,6 million tons

Compared to 2022, copper production in Peru increased by 150 tons, despite anti-government protests and road blockades early last year. By the end of the year the situation had returned to normal, and Oscar Vera, the country’s minister of energy and mining, said the government was working to reduce the approval time for mining projects from two years to six months.

Major copper mining operations in Peru include Anglo American’s Quellaveco mine and Southern Copper’s Tia Maria mine. Most of the country’s copper production is sent to China, with other major export destinations being Japan, South Korea and Germany.

3. Democratic Republic of Congo

Production: 2,5 million tons

Copper production in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) increased by 150 tonnes compared to 000 levels. One of the country’s large, actively developing copper assets is Kamoa-Kakula, a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines and Zijin Mining Group.

The DRC has rapidly increased its copper production in recent years and now accounts for more than 11% of global copper production. Since the launch of a significant number of projects is being prepared, the DRC in the future is able to supplant Peru and take second place in the world in copper production.

4. China

Production: 1,7 million tons

In China, the world’s largest consumer of copper, production of this metal decreased by 240 tons compared to 000. To meet the demand for copper in the construction and transport sectors, the country relies on copper imports. Zijin Mining Group is a leading metals producer in China and owns the Zijinshan and Shuguang gold and copper mines.

However, when it comes to refined copper production, China wins by a wide margin. In 2023, the country’s refined copper production amounted to 12 million tons. This is more than 44% of global refined copper production and six times higher than Chile, the next largest supplier of refined copper.

Copper production in China.

photo from open sources

5. USA

Production: 1,1 million tons

In the US, copper production fell 2023% in 10. Metal mining is mainly concentrated in the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Michigan and Missouri. 17 of the 25 copper mines accounted for 99% of the country’s production of this metal.

According to the USGS, the decline in U.S. copper production is due to a variety of reasons, from unplanned maintenance and depletion of copper in rock to weather events and geotechnical problems. The United States is also one of the top ten largest exporters of copper, mainly in the form of ores and concentrates, as well as refined copper.

6. Russia

Production: 910 tons

In 2023, Russia slightly reduced copper production compared to 936 tons a year earlier. One of the largest copper mining enterprises in Russia is the Udokan deposit in Siberia, which is currently owned by the Udokan Copper Company (formerly the 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 build a mining and smelting plant. In September 2023, its concentrator began producing copper concentrate.

7. Indonesia

Production: 840 tons

Indonesia’s copper production rose sharply from 734 tonnes in 000 to 2021 tonnes in 941. However, this figure fell by 000 tons last year. The country’s largest copper mine is Grasberg, located in the highlands of Central Papua province and owned by Freeport-McMoRan, a subsidiary of PT Freeport Indonesia.

The company currently has mining rights until 2041, but Freeport is in negotiations with the Indonesian government to extend its mining rights beyond that period.

Copper production in the USA.

photo from open sources

8 Australia

Production: 810 tons

Australia’s copper production remained essentially at 2022 levels. One of Australia’s largest copper operations is BHP’s Olympic Dam polymetallic mine in South Australia, which holds a strong position as the world’s fourth-largest copper deposit, although perhaps better known for its uranium.

Also worth noting is the MountIsa complex in Queensland, managed by a subsidiary of Glencore. The combined annual production from the two copper mines in the MountIsa area reaches 6,5 million tons of ore.

9. Zambia

Production: 760 tons

Zambia’s copper production fell by 10 tonnes last year, with a total decline of 000 tonnes from 2021. The country’s copper production is dominated by four mines, including Barrick Gold’s Lumwana and First Quantum Minerals’ Kansanshi.

Mopani Copper Mines is another major copper producer in the country. The company was owned by a joint venture between Glencore and First Quantum, but in 2021 became fully owned by the Zambian government, which previously held a 10% stake.

10 Mexico

Production: 750 tons

In Mexico, copper production volumes decreased by 4 tons compared to 000. One of the largest copper mines in Mexico is Grupo Mexico’s Buenavista del Cobre facility in the state of Sonora, which is by far the country’s leading copper producer.

Translation by Viktor Simionov

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