Copper is fairly ubiquitous around the world and has countless valuable uses. As such, the metal has been mined for thousands of years. According to the Copper Development Association, these days, more than 5 million tons of copper are produced each year.
A few countries have been leaders in its production year after year. Below are the top 10 copper-producing countries of 2012.
Mine production: 5.37 million tonnes
Chile has consistently blown other countries away in terms of copper production. According to the Inter Press Service, it controls 36 percent of the global copper market.
The nation is also home to the largest copper reserves in the world. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), it has reserves of 190 million tonnes, which is 28 percent of known copper reserves in existence.
Owned by the Chilean government, CODELCO leads copper production in the country. It produced 385,000 tonnes of the commodity during the first quarter of 2013.
Mine production: 1.5 million tonnes
It is estimated China has a copper reserve of 30 million tonnes. The country’s production increased by 190,000 tonnes between 2011 and 2012.
According to its website, Jiangxi Copper (SHA:600362) is the largest copper producer in China. It produced 1.2 million tonnes of copper in 2012 and expects output to increase to 1.22 million tonnes this year.
Mine production: 1.2 million tonnes
According to the USGS, Peru’s copper production did not change from 2011 to 2012, but Mining Minister Jorge Merino Tafur announced in May that Peru is determined to become the second-largest copper producer by 2016. The country’s known reserves of the metal are 76 milllion tonnes.
4. United States
Mine production: 1,1 million tonnes
The United States generally falls within the top five copper producers each year. The country’s total reserves are estimated at 39 million tonnes, though production only grew slightly from 2011 to 2012.
Mine production: 970,000 tonnes
Australia’s copper production rose 12,000 tonnes from 2011 to 2012. Its total reserves are 86 million tonnes. Most of the commodity in the country is produced at the Olympic Dam copper-uranium-gold deposit operated by BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP).
Mine production: 720,000 tonnes
Russia has an estimated 30 million tonnes of copper reserves, most of which are located in Siberia and the Ural Mountains. The Udokan project in the Transbaikal Territory is the third-largest copper deposit in the world, according to its operating company, Baikal Mining.
Mine production: 675,000 tonnes
Copper is an important source of income for Zambia. The country’s reserves sit at 20 million tonnes. Most of the mining takes place in the Copperbelt province, according to the Mining Intelligence Database. The largest mining company in Zambia is Konkola Copper Mines, a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources (LSE:VED).
Mine production: 580,000 tonnes
Like Zambia, the Congo also has a reserve of 20 million tonnes. The country’s copper mining is primarily located in the Katanga Province, which is home to the Central African Copperbelt that also runs through Zambia.
Mine production: 530,000 tonnes
British Columbia’s Highland Valley Copper Mine is one of the biggest copper mines in the world. It is operated by Teck Resources Limited (NYSE:TCK). In 2012, the mine’s copper production reached 116,300 tonnes.
Canada’s total copper reserves are 10 million tonnes, and its production fell from 566,000 tonnes in 2011 to 530,000 tonnes in 2012.
Mine production: 500,000 tonnes
Although its copper production level was tenth in the world in 2012, Mexico’s reserves – 38 million tonnes – are larger than other countries, including China and Canada. Grupo México (OTCMKTS:GMBXF) is one of the major copper producers in the world. During the first quarter of 2013, it produced 194,926 tonnes of copper.