The World’s Top 10 Biggest Copper Producers in 2019

Despite a challenging year, Codelco is still the largest copper producer in the world (based on attributable copper tonnes).

In order to compare “apples to apples”, Mines and Metals developed the top 10 copper producers ranking based on attributable tonnes.

With 1,706 ktonnes of copper mined in 2019 (including shares in El Abra and Anglo American Sur), Codelco is the largest copper producer worldwide. A 5.54% decrease in copper output was caused by a climate event in Northern District, strike at Chuquicamata and operational problems in first half of the year.

Glencore is second with 1,371 ktonnes of copper produced in 2019. A 5.71% decline was due to temporary suspension of Mutanda and shutdown of Mopani due to extensive smelter refurbishment.

BHP is third with 1,258 ktonnes of attributable copper output.

Freeport-McMoRan is fourth and lost one position in the ranking due to completion of mining at the Grasberg open pit mine and its transitioning to underground operations.

Southern Copper is fifth with 12.44% production increase over 2018 due to higher copper production at Toquepala mine (+51.5%) and Buenavista mine (+5.8%).

KGHM increased production by 10.73% and sits sixth. Production increase was due to the KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. segment as a result of its higher availability of production lines, including that of the concentrate roasting installation, and to Sierra Gorda S.C.M. as a result of higher extraction and processing of higher copper-grade ore.

First Quantum boosted copper output by 15.84% thanks to a contribution of 147,480 tonnes from Cobre Panama mine, of which 79,776 tonnes were commercial.

Rio Tinto lost one position and sits eighth. Production declined by 5.1% due to lower copper grades, partially offset by higher throughput.

Antofagasta is ninth and reported a record copper production with a particularly strong performance at Centinela.

Norilsk Nickel is tenth with copper output increased by 5.27% year-on-year to a record of 499 kt driven by improved operating efficiency, increased mined ore volumes and higher copper grades at Talnakh mines as well as the ramp-up of Bystrinsky (Chita) project that was fully commissioned in September 2019.

Top 10 Biggest Copper Producers

Source: Mines and Metals.

1. Codelco.

Codelco (Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile or, in English, the National Copper Corporation of Chile), the world’s largest producer of copper, is a Chilean state owned mining company. It was formed in 1976 from foreign-owned copper companies that were nationalized in 1971. It owns the world’s largest known copper reserves and resources that sufficient for more than 70 years of operation at current production rates.

2. Glencore.

Glencore is one of the world’s largest globally diversified natural resource companies and second largest copper producer. Founded in the 1970s as a trading company, Glencore has grown to become a major producer and marketer of commodities – employing 160,000 people around the world. Its operations comprise around 150 mining and metallurgical sites and oil production assets.

3. BHP Billiton.

BHP is a world-leading resources company. BHP extract and process minerals, oil and gas, with more than 72,000 employees and contractors, primarily in Australia and the Americas. BHP products are sold worldwide, with sales and marketing led through Singapore and Houston, United States. BHP global headquarters are in Melbourne, Australia. The Company operates under a Dual Listed Company structure with two parent companies (BHP Group Limited and BHP Group Plc) operated as if they were a single economic entity, which is referred to as BHP. BHP runs by a unified Board and management.

4. Freeport-McMoRan.

Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) is a leading international mining company with headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona. The Company was incorporated under the laws of the state of Delaware on November 10, 1987. Freeport operates large, long-lived geographically diverse assets with significant proven and probable reserves of copper, gold and molybdenum. Its portfolio of assets includes the Grasberg minerals district in Indonesia, one of the world’s largest copper and gold deposits; and significant mining operations in the Americas, including the large-scale Morenci minerals district in North America and the Cerro Verde operation in South America.

5. Southern Copper.

SCC is a majority-owned, indirect subsidiary of Grupo Mexico S.A.B. SCC is one of the largest integrated copper producers in the world. SCC produces copper, molybdenum, zinc, lead, coal and silver. All of its mining, smelting and refining facilities are located in Peru and Mexico and SCC conducts exploration activities in those countries and Chile. Since 1996, SCC’s common stock is listed on both the New York and Lima Stock Exchanges.

6. KGHM.

KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. (Kombinat Górniczo-Hutniczy Miedzi), commonly known as KGHM, is a Polish multinational corporation that employs around 34,000 people around the world and has been a major copper and silver producer for more than 50 years. In 1991, the company was established as a state enterprise and since 1997, their shares have been traded on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. Currently, KGHM operates 9 open-pit and underground mines located in Poland, Canada, the USA and Chile and is actively advancing 4 projects. KGHM produces key global resources including copper, gold, silver, nickel,  molybdenum, rhenium, lead, selenium and platinum group metals.

7. First Quantum.

First Quantum is a global copper company. The Company produces copper in the form of concentrate, cathode and anode, and have inventories of nickel, gold and cobalt. First Quantum operates long life mines in several countries and employ approximately 20,000 people world-wide.

8. Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto is an Anglo-Australian multinational and the world’s second largest metals and mining corporations, behind BHP Billiton, producing iron ore, copper, diamonds, gold and uranium. The company was founded in 1873, when a multinational consortium of investors purchased a mine complex on the Rio Tinto, in Huelva, Spain, from the Spanish government. Since then, the company has grown through a long series of mergers and acquisitions to place itself among the world leaders in the production of many commodities, including aluminium, iron ore, copper, uranium, and diamonds. Although primarily focused on extraction of minerals, Rio Tinto also has significant operations in refining, particularly for refining bauxite and iron ore. The company has operations on six continents, but is mainly concentrated in Australia and Canada.

9. Antofagasta.

Antofagasta is one of the major international copper producers with its activities concentrated mainly in Chile where it now operates four copper mines: Los Pelambres, Centinela (previously the Esperanza and Tesoro mines), Antucoya and Zaldivar (50% owned, 50% owned by the Canadian mining company Barrick Gold).

10. Norilsk Nickel.

MMC Norilsk Nickel is a diversified mining and metallurgical company, the world’s largest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel and a major producer of platinum and copper. The company also produces cobalt, rhodium, silver, gold, iridium, ruthenium, selenium, tellurium, sulphur and other products. The production units of Norilsk Nickel Group are located at the Norilsk Industrial District, on the Kola Peninsula and Zabaykalsky Krai in Russia as well as in Finland and South Africa. MMC Norilsk Nickel shares are listed on the Moscow and on the Saint-Petersburg Stock Exchanges, ADRs are traded over the counter in the US and on the London, Berlin and Frankfurt Stock Exchanges.

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