The World's 20 Largest Copper Mines 2014

A look at the twenty biggest copper miens

Copper production capacity at the world's 20 largest mines accounted for over 8.1 million metric tonnes in 2014. That is nearly 40 percent of the world's total copper mine capacity.  

About 75 percent of these mines produce concentrate, while only about a quarter use a solvent-extraction electro-winning (SX-EW) process to produce electrolytic copper cathodes. 

Despite the high costs of production, copper mines still account for about 80 percent of total refined copper production annually. The remaining 20 percent comes from recycled scrap sources. 

Looking at the 20 largest mines, Latin America has a big presence. Mines here account for over 40 percent of mine capacity at the world's largest copper sources. In fact, eight of the mines are located in Chile alone.

Four of the top 20 mines are operated by the Chilean state-owned company, and world's largest producer of copper, Codelco. 

The high costs of financing a major mine are reflected in the fact that seven of the top ten mines are jointly owned by major mining corporations. 

The list below is compiled from information from the ICSG Directory of Copper Mines and Plants (2014). Beside each mine's name is the country that it is located in and its annual production capacity in thousands of metric tonnes - or kilotonnes (kt). 

1
Escondida - Chile (1050kt)

The Escondida Mine. Photo source: Rio Tinto

Managed by BHP Billiton, the Escondida copper mine in Chile's Atacama desert is jointly owned by BHP Billiton (57.5%), Rio Tinto Corp. (30%) and Japan Escondida (12.5%). In 2014, the massive Escondida mine accounted for five percent of total global copper mine production. Gold and silver are extracted as by-products from the ore. 

2
Grasberg - Indonesia (790kt)

The Grasberg Mine. Photo Source: Alfindra Primaldhi (Wikipedia CC)

The Grasberg mine, located in the highlands of Indonesia's Papua province, is the world's largest gold mine and second largest copper mine. Operated by PT Freeport Indonesia Co., the mine is a joint venture between Freeport McMoRan (90.64%) and the Indonesian government (9.36%). 

3
Collahuasi - Chile (520kt)

The Collahuasi Mine. Photo source: Collahuasi

Chile's second largest copper mine, Collahuasi, is a owned by a consortium of Anglo American (44%), Glencore plc (44%) and Mitsui + Nippon (12%). The operators of Collahuasi mine and produce copper concentrate and cathodes and molybdenum concentrate. Most of the concentrate produced at Collahuasi is sold to smelters in China for further refining. 

4
Los Bronces - Chile (490kt)

The Los Bronces Mine. Photo source: Anglo American

Also located in Chile's Atacama region, the Los Bronces mine is jointly owned by Anglo American (75.5%) and Mitsubishi Corp. (24.5%). A US$ 2.5 billion expansion project - completed in 2012 - increased the mines capacity to its current level of nearly 500,000 tonnes per year. 

5
Codelco Norte - Chile (450kt)

The Chuquicamata Mine. Photo Source: Reinhard Jahn, Mannheim (Wikepedia CC)

Chile's state-owned Codelco owns and operates the Codelco Norte (or Chuquicamata) copper mine in northern Chile. The world's largest open-pit mine, Chuquicamata has been in operation for over a century producing refined copper and molybdenum. 

6
Antamina - Peru (450kt)

The Antamina Mine tailings pond. Photo source: Xtremizta (Wikipedia CC)

The Antamina copper-zinc mine is located 275km north of Lima, Peru. Silver, bismuth, molybdenum and lead are also separated from the ore produced at Antamina. Jointly owned by BHP Billiton (33.75%), Teck (22.5%), Glencore plc (33.75%) and Mitsubishi Corp. (10%), the mine is scheduled to cease production in 2019. 

7
Morenci - USA (450kt)

The Morenci Mine. Photo source: Stephanie Salisbury (Wikipedia CC)

The Morenci mine in Arizona is the largest copper mine in North America. Operated by Freeport McMoRan, the mine is jointly owned by the company (85%) and Sumitomo Affiliates (15%). Morenci first opened for operation in 1872 and now made-up of three mining pits. 

8
El Teniente - Chile (443kt)

The El Teniente Mine. Photo source: Mining.com

 The world's largest underground mine, El Teniente, is located in the Andes of central Chile. Owned and operated by Codelco, El Teniente has been mined since the 19th century and is now comprised of more than 2400km of tunnels. 

9
Taimry Peninsula - Russia (430kt)

The Taimyr Mine. Photo source: Russiatrek.org

The Taimry mine is operated as part of the Polar Division of MMC Norilsk Nickel. Located in Siberia, you wouldn't want to work here unless you really like the cold. The underground nickel mine began production in the 1930s and is a source of cobalt, gold, silver and platinum group metals, as well as copper. 

10
Los Pelambres - Chile (400kt)

The Los Pelambres Mine. Photo source: Antofagasta

 Located in central Chile's Coquimbo region, the Los Pelambres mine is a joint venture between Antofagasta Plc (60%), Nippon Mining (25%) and Mitsubishi Materials (15%). With an average grade of roughly 0.6 percent copper, the mine produces copper and molybdenum concentrate while providing gold and silver credits. 

11
Radomiro Tomic - Chile (400kt)

 Codelco

12
Andina - Chile (300kt)

 Codelco

13
Kansanshi - Zambia (285kt)

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (80%), ZCCM (20%) 

14
Bingham Canyon - USA (280kt)

 Kennecott

15
Batu Hijau - Indonesia (250kt)

Pt Newmont Nusa Tenggara (PT Pukuafu 20%, Newmont 41.5%, Sumitomo) 

16
Sarcheshmeh - Iran (249kt)

National Iranian Copper Industry Co.  

17
Cerro Verde II - Peru (240kt)

 Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. 53.5%, Compania de Minas Buenaventura 18.5%, Sumitomo 21%

18
Olympic Dam - Australia (225kt)

 BHP Billiton

19
Cuajone - Peru (212kt)

 Grupo Mexico (54.1%), Marmon Corp. (15%), Freeport-McMoRan

20
Konkola - Zambia (200kt)

 Konkola Copper Mines (Vedanta 79.4%, ZCCM 20.6%)

 

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