10 Top Copper-producing Companies

Here's a look at the 10 top copper-producing companies, as outlined in this year's Thomson Reuters GFMS Copper Survey.

historical copper prices

Check out our 2016 look at the world’s top copper producing countries here. 

It’s certainly been tough for copper prices in recent years, but the red metal has largely held its ground in 2016, leaving some to believe that things could be looking up for copper in the near future.

According to the survey from Thomson Reuters GFMS, a 150,000-tonne surplus is expected in 2016, with slowing supply cuts and global demand growth sitting below the average of three percent seen over the past decade.

Still, the firm noted that the copper surplus is shrinking, down to less than half of last year’s 363,000 tonnes. Thomson Reuters stated that it sees the current low price environment as “sowing seeds for the next boom, ” with prices rising around 2018.

Here’s a look at the 10 top copper-producing companies, as outlined in the Thomson Reuters GFMS Copper Survey.

1. Codelco

Production: 1.893 million tonnes

Codelco upped its copper production again last year, from 1.839 million tonnes to 1.893 million. The state-owned Chilean company is the world’s biggest copper producer.

Last year’s rise came despite a few setbacks, such as protests that temporarily shut down production at Codelco’s Ministro Hales mine.

That trend is set to increase in 2016 as well—as per Shanghai Metals Market, Codelco increased its copper output by 11 percent year-over-year to 437,000 tonnes for Q1.

2. Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX)

Production: 1.547 million tonnes

Freeport-McMoRan recorded an increase in copper production for 2015, putting out 1.547 million tonnes of the red metal compared wth 1.47 the year previous. The company is based in Phoenix, Arizona.

One of the company’s assets is the Grasberg minerals district in Indonesia, which is one of the largest copper deposits on the globe. Grasberg exported less material in 2014 due to a concentrate export ban in Indonesia, and also had to temporarily halt production in 2015 due to worker protests.

Freeport-McMoRan reported that in the second quarter of 2016, consolidated sales totaled 1.1 billion pounds of copper. 

3. Glencore (LSE:GLEN)

Production: 1.259 million tonnes

A major diversified miner, Glencore saw a drop in copper output to 1.259 million tonnes of copper in 2015 from 1.296 million tonnes in 2014. Like Freeport, Glencore announced substantial copper production cuts last year, taking roughly 400,000 tonnes of copper cathode out of the market.

Bloomberg reported that Glencore posted the lowest profit in its five-year history, and that the company has widened its debt-reduction target by $500 million.


Production: 1.178 million tonnes

BHP Billiton also saw a dip in production from 2014 to 2015, producing 1.178 million tonnes last year compared with 1.203 million in 2014. The Australia-based producer had plans to improve production in 2015, but saw problems earlier this year at its Olympic Dam operation in Australia, forcing it to cut its production forecast by 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes.

Still, the company has high hopes for copper, with the company’s asset manager for Olympic Dam telling Bloomberg, “The real spark, though, is the demand for renewables … Regardless of where the energy’s coming from, it needs copper.” BHP is planning to increase copper output at Olympic Dam by 15 percent by 2021.

5. Southern Copper (NYSE:SCCO)

Production: 745,000 tonnes

Southern Copper saw a 9.08 percent gain in its copper production, putting out 745,000 tonnes in 2015 vs. 665,000 tonnes in 2014. The company, which is over 85-percent owned by Grupo Mexico, increased its copper sales volume by 12.3 percent on the back of this higher output.  In 2016, Southern Copper produced 447,503 tonnes in the first half-year.  Despite a copper price reduction of 22 percent, the company reported that net sales were $1,335.1 million.

The company believes it has the largest copper reserves in the industry. However, Southern Copper and Grupo Mexico got some bad press for environmental troubles at Buenavista mine in 2014 — a toxic leak at the mine contaminated the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers in Northern Mexico, turning waters orange.

6. KGHM Polska Miedz (WSE:KGH)

Production: 562,000 tonnes

Poland’s KGHM has operations in Europe, North America and South America, and says that it holds over 37.5 million tonnes of copper ore resources worldwide. In 2015, the company produced 563,000 tonnes of copper,  and in the first half of 2016, the company reported a 3 percent increase in production–from 15.7 milion tonnes to 16.2 million tonnes dry weight.


Production: 555,000 tonnes

Rio Tinto produced 555,000 tonnes of copper in 2014, a steep drop from the 636,000 tonnes it produced in 2014. One of the largest diversified mining companies in the world behind BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto got some good news regarding its Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia in May 2015: after two years of setbacks due to disagreements over the project with the Mongolian government, the two parties came to an agreement to move it forward. This month, the miner gave approval for the $5.3 billion expansion project.

8. Anglo American (LSE:AAL)

Production: 472,000 tonnes 

Like many companies on this list, Anglo American put out less copper in 2015 than it did in 2014 — 472,000 tonnes compared with the previous year’s 504,000 tonnes.

The company sold two of its copper mines in Chile in 2015 for $330 million.

9. Antofagasta (LSE:ANTO)

Production: 400,000 tonnes

Chilean copper mining company Antofagasta produced 400,000 tonnes of copper in 2015, a decrease from 2014′s total of 455,000 tonnes. In the first half of 2016, the company produced 323,300 tonnes of copper, 6.6 percent higher than in the same period last year. The company expects that group copper production for 2016 is expected to be at the lower end of the 710-740,000 tonnes.

10. First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM)

Production: 366,000 tonnes (380,000)

Rounding out the list of 2015′s 10 top producers is First Quantum Minerals. The company saw a bit of a dip in production from 2014 to 2015, producing 380,000 tonnes in 2014 and 366,000 last year.

For the second quarter of 2016, First Quantum reported copper production of 131,349 tonnes and sales of 132,030 tonnes. The positive numbers were due to a 53 percent increase in copper production at Sentinel over Q1 2016, highest quarterly production at Kansansh, and a higher sales volume compared to Q1 2016.

This article was originally posted on August 22, 2016.

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