Top 10 copper producing nations

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on April 22nd, 2015 11:12am

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.

1. Chile

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.

2. China

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.

3. Peru

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.

6. Australia

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.

7. Russia

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.

8. Zambia

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.

9. Canada

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.

10. Mexico

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.


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