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.

1. Chile

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.

2. China

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.

3. Peru

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.

5. Australia

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.

6. Russia

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.

8. Zambia

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.

9. Canada

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).

10. Mexico

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.