The World's 10 Largest Copper Producers
The world's 10 biggest copper producers accounted for over 10 million metric tonnes (mmt) of the precious metal in 2018. The top four companies accounted for more than 60% of that total. The top 10 copper firms produced over $57 billion worth of the metal in 2018.
All information is taken from each company's 2018 annual financial and operational reports. Amounts are listed as million metric tons (mmt) or kilotons (kt).
Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX) is the world's largest publicly traded copper producer. The company's assets include the Grasberg mining complex in Indonesia, the world’s largest copper and gold mine in terms of recoverable reserves.
The firm also owns the Morenci and Safford minerals districts in North America along with the Tenke Fungurume minerals district in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
FCX produced 1.9 million metric tonnes of refined copper in 2018, about 11% of the world's total, making it one of the world's largest copper suppliers. Freeport-McMoRan posted revenues of $18.7 billion in 2018.
BHP Billiton—1.7 mmt
Australia-based BHP Billiton (BLT) produced 1.7 mmt of refined copper in 2018. BHP is also one of the world's largest producers of aluminum, copper, manganese, iron ore, uranium, nickel, silver, and titanium.
The company's copper assets include a 57.5% interest in Minera Escondida, the world's largest copper-producing mine, in Chile's Atacama Desert.
In 2016, BHP Billiton posted its worst annual loss in history, losing $6.4 billion in a 12-month period. Thanks in part to an uptick in commodity prices, BHP Billiton posted a profit of over $3.7 billion at end-of-year 2018.
Baar, Switzerland–based Glencore (GLEN), a global commodity production and marketing company with 145,000 employees in over 25 countries, produced 1.5 mmt of copper in 2018.
Glencore's copper assets include a majority of the ownership stake in Katanga Mining Limited in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Mopani mine in Zambia, the Cobar mine in Australia, and the Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corporation.
Southern Copper Corp.—884 kt
Southern Copper Corp. (SCCO), a subsidiary of Grupo México, with offices in Phoenix and major operations in Mexico and Peru, produced 884,000 metric tonnes of copper in 2018, nearly the same as the year prior. The firm's major assets include the Cuajone and Toquepala mines in Peru and the Cananea mine in Mexico.
Chilean mining group Antofagasta produced 725,000 metric tonnes of copper in 2018, a substantial increase from the prior two years.
This increase in production was due to the successful integration of Zaldívar, a joint-venture mining operation about 900 miles north of Santiago, and the ramp-up of operations in the Antucoy and Centinela Concentrates mines, which are both also located in central Chile.
KGHM Polska Miedz—634 kt
KGHM Polska Miedz—one of Poland's largest companies, with more than 28,000 employees and annual gross revenues over $3 billion—produced 634,000 metric tonnes of copper in 2018, a small decrease from 2017.
KGHM, which operates three mines—Lubin, Rudna, and Polkowice-Sierszowice—also produces significant quantities of silver annually. The rise in metal prices has brought the group back from a substantial yearly loss it incurred in 2016.
Rio Tinto Group—633 kt
British-Australian company Rio Tinto produced approximately 633,000 metric tonnes of copper in 2018. Its key copper assets include Kennecott Utah Copper, which has been in existence for more than 100 years, operating the Bingham Canyon mine near Salt Lake City.
The group owns a 40% share of production from the Grasberg mine in Indonesia, which is the world’s second-largest copper mine, and currently owned by Freeport-McMoRan. Rio Tinto owns a 30% share in the Minera Escondida copper mine in Chile’s Atacama Desert.
First Quantum Ltd.—.606 kt
First Quantum (FM), based in Vancouver, Canada, produced 606,000 metric tonnes of copper in 2018. The company is a well-established and growing metals and mining company producing mainly copper, gold, nickel, and zinc.
The company plans to greatly increase its copper production in coming years. "First Quantum is poised to become one of the largest widely held, pure-play copper producers in the world," the firm noted on its website in 2018.
Brazilian mining firm Vale produced 395,500 tonnes of copper in 2018, the same as in 2016. The company has had record production in both its Sudbury and Salobo operations in Brazil.
Vale, one of the world's largest mining companies, also mines iron, nickel, manganese, and even coal, noting on its website that it is "working with passion to transform natural resources into prosperity."