While demand for copper dropped slightly in 2014 compared to 2013, global production of the metal increased by 400 million tonnes to hit 18,700 million tonnes, according to a report from the US Geological Survey (USGS).
Here’s a look at the top copper-producing countries for 2014, as reported by the USGS. Chile took the top spot again last year, although other producers, including China and Peru, recorded increases in output.
Mine production: 5,800 million tonnes
Chile took the lead by a long shot, producing 5,800 million tonnes of copper last year; that’s a slight increase over 2013′s 5,780 million tonnes. According to a Reuters article from June 2014, Chile’s copper production has been increasing for the past decade. However, technical and regulatory issues could cause roadblocks for the country’s plans to keep ramping up production going forward.
Mine production: 1,620 million tonnes
China also upped its copper production in 2014, putting out 1,620 million tonnes of the metal, a climb from 2013′s 1,600 million tonnes. In particular, Reuters notes that the country’s production increased during the second half of the year, in large part due to the restart of a 100,000-tonne-a-year smelter in the country’s northeastern Liaoning province in November after five years of being idle.
Mine production: 1,400 million tonnes
Peru saw gains in copper production from 2013 to 2014, producing 1,400 million tonnes last year compared to 1,380 million tonnes in 2013. The country is aiming to double its production by 2016 to replace China as the second-largest producer of the metal in the world. Five major projects are on schedule to begin that year, with one in particular, Cerro Verde, to begin initial production in the second half of 2015.
4. United States
Mine production: 1,370 million tonnes
The US produced 1,370 million tonnes of copper in 2014, a 10-percent increase from 2013′s 1,250 million tonnes. Growth has been mainly credited to production increases in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The USGS notes that those three states, as well as Nevada and Montana, accounted for 99 percent of the county’s production.
5. The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mine production: 1,100 million tonnes
The Democratic Republic of the Congo saw its copper production increase from 970,000 tonnes in 2013 to 1,100 million tonnes in 2014. Similar to other countries on this list, copper output from the country has been steadily on the rise the past few years as new projects have come into play. The mining industry in the Congo also plays a significant role in driving economic growth, and was responsible for an 8.5-percent push in 2013 and an 8.7-percent increase last year.
Mine production: 1,000 million tonnes
Copper production in Australia broke into the millions in 2014, reaching 1,000 million tonnes, a step forward from 2013′s total of 990,000 tonnes. According to domestic government resource Geoscience Australia, most of the country’s copper comes from underground mines. The traditional method of recovery involves a flotation process that separates the ore mineral grains from waste material.
Mine production: 850,000 tonnes
Russia’s copper production saw mild gains in 2014, with output hitting 850,000 tonnes compared to 833,000 in 2013. However, though production increased over the course of the year, some Russian companies hinted at slowing production in early 2015 when the rouble dropped and demand for the metal fell. Specifically, the industry doesn’t want to repeat the situation that occurred during the 2008 financial crisis, in which high production led to large inventories.
Mine production: 730,000 tonnes
Zambia is the only country on this list that recorded a drop in production from 2013 to 2014. In 2013, the country produced 760,000 tonnes of copper, but production dropped off to 730,000 tonnes last year. The country’s government stepped up efforts to establish a stronger relationship with the mining industry in 2014, but disputes occurred over the country’s move to increase royalties from 6 percent to 20 percent for open-pit mining operations. That led companies such as Glencore (LSE:GLEN) and First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) to put expansion objects on hold. Recently, the country reversed its decision on the royalty increase, and sources now say the royalty will only rise to 20 percent.
Mine production: 680,000 tonnes
Canada saw mild production gains in 2014, reaching output of 680,000 tonnes compared to 632,000 in 2013. This growth is expected to continue going forward. Last December, Seabridge Gold (TSX:SEA,NYSE:SA) received approval to move forward with its massive KSM project from Canada’s minister of environment. The KSM project is the world’s largest undeveloped gold -copper project by reserves, and the deposit is estimated to contain 9.9 billion pounds of copper.
Mine production: 520,000 tonnes
Mexican copper production reached 520,000 tonnes for 2014, an increase from 480,000 in 2013. Still, the Mexican copper industry saw its fair share of issues last year, with a September toxic spill at Grupo Mexico’s Buenavista copper mine contaminating water supply for about 800,000 people.
(June 16 2014)
2013 Top 10 Copper-producing Countries
In terms of copper production, it’s Chile that accounts for the lion’s share of world output. However, there are still several other countries with significant operations, including neighboring Peru, as well as China, the United States and Russia.
The US Geological Survey has released its most recent set of data on copper-producing countries, and Copper Investing News took a look to see which made the top 10. Below is a list of those countries, along with a little background information on each nation.
Mine production: 5,700,000 tons
Up first is Chile, which produced a whopping 5,700,000 tons of copper in 2013. That’s up from 5,430,000 tons in 2012. As The Economist reports, the red metal provides 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and accounts for 60 percent of its exports. The publication also notes that thanks to copper, Chile’s economy is expanding by 6 percent annually; it also credits the industry with the country’s low rates of inflation and unemployment.
Mine production: 1,650,000 tons
China is the closest second, producing less than half of what was put out by Chile. It recorded 1,650,000 tons of copper production in 2013, an increase from the 1,630,000 tons produced in 2012. China, the world’s largest single consumer of copper, hit record rates of production for the red metal in November 2013, according to Reuters. New production sites continued to come online through 2013 in China, increasing production at a steady rate. Additionally, importing raw copper concentrate to China is costly, causing domestic smelting operations to begin to rise.
Mine production: 1,300,000 tons
Peru produced 1,300,000 tons of copper in 2013, not moving much from its 2012 production level. Peru This Week reported that the country’s mine production could rise by as much as 10 percent in 2014, and Peru’s energy and mines minister, Jorge Merino, has projected a 17-percent increase in copper production alone as the result of several new projects set to open in the year ahead. The country also expects more foreign investment into its mining sector as a result of these projects.
4. United States
Mine production: 1,220,000 tons
The US saw 1,220,000 tons of copper production for 2013, up slightly from its figure of 1,170,000 tons in 2012. MINING.com notes that this increase came despite a catastrophic landslide at Utah’s Bingham Canyon mine in early 2013; the incident caused it to cease production for an extended period of time. The total copper production in the US is worth more than $1 billion.
Mine production: 990,000 tons
In 2013, 990,000 tons of copper were produced in Australia, marking an increase from 958,000 tons in 2012. Geoscience Australia, a government agency, notes that most of the copper resources in the country are located in Queensland and South Australia, though there are resources in each state and in the Northern Territory as well. Most of the country’s production is centered in the Mount Isa region in Queensland and the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia.
Mine production: 930,000 tons
Russia ranks sixth, having produced 930,000 tons of copper in 2013. That level is up from the 883,000 tons it produced in 2012. NASDAQ reported that Russia has about 10 percent of the world’s copper reserves, and that these deposits are located primarily in Siberia and the Urals. The vast majority of Russian copper projects are in remote regions, away from population and infrastructure, which makes mining operations relatively difficult. Additionally, the country has laws restricting the amount of foreign investment in its mineral reserves.
7. The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mine production: 900,000 tons
The Democratic Republic of the Congo produced 900,000 tons of copper in 2013, a significant rise from the 600,000 tons produced in the country in 2012. The International Monetary Fund believes this level of production may spur the country’s economic growth to the tune of 8.7 percent in 2014, according to Bloomberg. In 2012, the mining industry comprised more than 15 percent of the Congo’s gross domestic product, the news outlet notes.
Mine production: 830,000 tons
In Zambia, 830,000 tons of copper were produced in 2013, marking an increase from 2012′s 690,000 tons. 2013 saw several new copper projects begin in Zambia, boosting production by 21 percent in the first 11 months of the year, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"We are at a level where most copper projects that have been in the pipeline a few years back are coming on stream,” Fredrick Bantubonse, an independent metals analyst based in Zambia, told the Journal.
Mine production: 630,000 tons
Canada just made it into the top 10 with 630,000 tons of copper production in 2013, up from 579,000 tons in 2012. Natural Resources Canada notes that copper volume and value both increased despite decreases in the metal’s price throughout the year. The organization attributes this rise to new mine openings by Glencore Xstrata (LSE:GLEN) and Hudbay Minerals (TSX:HBM).
Mine production: 480,000 tons
Coming in at number 10 is Mexico, which produced 480,000 tons of copper in 2013, clocking an increase from the 440,000 tons it produced in 2012. Like other countries on this list, Mexico forecasts increases in copper production over the next two years, as per Bloomberg. However, the publication notes that copper prices will need to remain steady in order for that to occur.