Top 20 Countries With Largest Copper Reserves in the World [2023 Updated]
Within this comprehensive piece, we’ll delve into an examination of the top 20 Countries With Largest Copper Reserves in the World. If you’re inclined to bypass the intricate specifics and directly uncover the most significant copper riches, keep reading.
These countries are actively working towards enhancing their mining capacities to boost their exports and capitalize on their copper riches. However, the significance of copper reserves goes beyond geological and industrial considerations; it carries profound financial implications and strategic importance for these nations.
The value associated with copper mining activities is primarily driven by the metal’s wide-ranging applications in electronics, construction, and renewable energy sectors. The ever-increasing demand for copper, driven by technological progress and global infrastructure development, further underscores its significance.
The financial impact of copper reserves manifests through various avenues. Revenues generated from copper mining, processing, and exports play a pivotal role in strengthening the economic positions of these nations. Copper contributes significantly to their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and boosts public sector revenues. For instance, in the year 2022, Chile, which boasts the largest copper reserves globally, witnessed its mining sector contributing over 14% to its GDP. Notably, copper constituted a substantial portion of the country’s export earnings.
As per The International Copper Study Group’s (ICSG) 2022 World Copper Factbook, Chile emerged as a dominant player in the copper industry in 2021. The nation accounted for nearly one-third of the world’s total copper mine production, boasting an impressive output of 5.6 million metric tons. This accomplishment can be attributed to Chile’s extensive mineral reserves and robust mining infrastructure. To explore which countries are effectively leveraging their copper reserves, take a look at our coverage of the Top 15 Copper Producing Countries for a more insightful perspective.
In the latter half of the previous decade, Peru’s copper mining sector experienced significant growth starting from 2015. This period marked a noteworthy increase in the country’s copper production, resulting in Peru contributing a commendable 10.8% to global copper mine production by 2021.
Despite Peru’s strides in identifying new copper reserves, the country’s concession system poses challenges for new investments in the mining industry. It’s also worth noting that the impressive growth in copper production in Chile and Peru has shifted the global copper supply landscape. This shift comes as the United States and European nations aim to diversify their mineral imports, moving away from heavy reliance on mainland China.
Copper Mining Capacity Worldwide
In the year 2022, the Escondida mine situated in Chile claims the top spot for the highest copper mining capacity globally, boasting an impressive 1,510 thousand metric tons. This substantial capacity is primarily owned by BHP Group Limited (NYSE:BHP), with a 57.5% stake, and Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO), holding 30%. The Escondida mine is characterized as a copper porphyry deposit.
In close pursuit, Indonesia’s Grasberg copper mine, owned by Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX), holds a noteworthy copper mining capacity of 800 thousand metric tons.
Notably, the Morenci mine, which also ranks as the fourth-largest mine based on capacity, along with the Safford mines, both located in Arizona and owned by Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX), experienced a remarkable surge in copper production during 2022.
Among the copper mines in the United States, a standout performance in terms of increased throughput was observed at The Bingham Canyon Mine, owned by Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO) in 2022. This notable improvement in throughput can be attributed to higher recovery rates achieved during the year.
Furthermore, in the landscape of copper mining, the Antamania copper mine in Chile, operated by BHP Group Limited (NYSE:BHP), secures its place as the seventh-largest copper mine by throughput capacity, boasting a capacity of 450 thousand metric tons.
Worldwide Copper Reserves Declining? Duration of Copper Reserves?
According to data from the ICSG (International Copper Study Group), the capacity for copper mining is projected to reach 31.2 million tons by the year 2026, reflecting the increasing demand for refined copper. Notably, the consumption of copper surged to 25.3 million metric tons in 2021, a significant jump from the 500,000 tons recorded in 1990, and this upward trajectory shows no signs of slowing down.
Key players like The Bingham Canyon Mine, under the ownership of the Rio Tinto Group (NYSE:RIO), the Safford mines in Arizona owned by Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX), and the Escondida Mine, with substantial ownership by BHP Group Limited (NYSE:BHP), significantly contribute to the overall mining capacity.
The remarkable compound annual growth rate of 3.3% in copper production raises an important question: will copper reserves dwindle in the near future? A thorough analysis of data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) spanning back to 1960 reveals a consistent trend of maintaining an average of 40 years’ worth of copper reserves at any given time.
Furthermore, the global supply of copper isn’t solely reliant on original ore reserves. Supplementary strategies such as copper recycling, innovative technologies, and ongoing exploration efforts have played a crucial role in sustaining the availability of copper.
While the modern technological landscape has led to heightened demand for copper extracted from ores, the expansion of known reserves has managed to keep pace. Over the two decades from 2000 to 2021, despite extracting 373 million tons of copper, the reserves experienced a net growth of 447 million tons, leading to the current total of 890,000 million metric tons, as indicated by USGS data.
A study conducted by USGS in 2015 revealed that globally identified copper reserves amount to 2.1 billion tons, while untapped resources are estimated at 3.5 billion tons. This expansion in reserves reflects the outcomes of persistent exploration efforts, advancements in mining technology, and the evolving economics of mining operations.
However, beyond the measured and unmeasured copper reserves, the challenges in copper production are concerning. Due to limited mining capacities and production shortages, there is a worrisome scenario of a potential 20% deficit in copper supply by 2035, a stark contrast to the mere 2% shortfall observed in 2021.
The Approach We Follow
The provision of government estimates regarding minerals is an annual endeavor undertaken by USGS (United States Geological Survey) through its Mineral Commodity Summaries. To compile our list of countries with the largest copper reserves worldwide, we referred to the 2023 edition of this publication. Specifically, we delved into the copper section to extract the relevant findings. Alongside identifying these nations, we also scrutinized recent developments and trends within the copper sector, drawing insights from the same USGS publication.
Beyond USGS, another pivotal player in monitoring the mining domain, particularly in relation to copper, is the ICSG (International Copper Study Group). Our research led us to The World Copper Factbook of 2022, released by ICSG. This comprehensive resource served as an essential guide for comprehending shifts in copper reserves across various time frames. The factbook not only presented valuable insights into the output capacities of diverse copper mines but also provided a comprehensive overview of global copper consumption and projections within the sector.
According to Our Research, These Countries have the Most Copper Reserves:
Copper Reserves: 190 Million Metric Tons in 2022
Chile boasts an impressive copper reserve amounting to 190 million metric tons, a figure nearly twice as large as that of the second-ranked country on the list of nations with substantial copper reserves. Notably, the Atacama Desert is home to Chile’s most noteworthy copper deposits, with the renowned Escondida mine, recognized as the largest copper mine globally, being a standout feature. The presence of such extensive copper reserves firmly establishes Chile’s strategic standing within the realm of international mineral trade. The significant contributions of copper exports to the national GDP underscore the vital role that copper plays in Chile’s economic landscape.
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Copper reserves: 97 Million Metric Tons in 2022
With a substantial copper reserve totaling 97 million metric tons, Australia claims the distinction of possessing the world’s second-largest reserves of this valuable metal. A significant portion of this abundant resource finds its concentration within the Olympic Dam mine located in South Australia. Notably, this mine holds the distinction of being the largest single deposit of its kind on a global scale. The enormity of this copper reserve emphasizes Australia’s pivotal position within the international copper supply network. Moreover, Australia’s mining endeavors showcase a harmonious equilibrium between resource utilization and responsible environmental stewardship.
Copper Reserves: 81 Million Metric Tons in 2022
Claiming the impressive position of the world’s third-largest holder of copper reserves, Peru showcases a remarkable stockpile of approximately 81 million metric tons, as reported by USGS. Notably, these reserves find a concentrated presence within the Antamina and Cerro Verde mines, both of which rank among the globe’s largest copper mining sites. For instance, a notable contender is the Cerro Verde II copper mine, predominantly managed by Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX), exhibiting an impressive output capacity of 500 thousand metric tons.
Despite grappling with an array of challenges related to environmental sustainability and social responsibility, Peru’s copper mining industry remains an indispensable and integral facet of its economy.
Copper reserves: 62 Million Metric Tons in 2022
Ranked fourth on the global scale, Russia stands as a holder of substantial copper reserves, boasting an impressive store of 62 million metric tons of this valuable metal. Notably, a significant chunk of these copper reserves finds their concentration within the Ural Mountains region, renowned for its abundant metallic mineral deposits. Ongoing efforts in geological surveys and advancements in mining technology in Russia are anticipated to yield favorable outcomes in terms of enhancing exploration and extraction of these valuable reserves.
Adding to its copper prowess, the Polar Division copper mine in Russia takes the spotlight with its noteworthy achievements. This mine claims the seventh spot in terms of copper output capacity worldwide, boasting an impressive yield of 450 thousand metric tons.
Copper reserves: 61.4 Million Metric Tons in 2022
In the year 2022, Mongolia proudly holds a substantial reserve of around 61.4 million metric tons of copper, securing the fifth position on a global scale. The lion’s share of these valuable reserves finds its home within the expansive Oyu Tolgoi mine, strategically located in the South Gobi region. This area has emerged as a vital and strategic hub, significantly contributing to the economic landscape of the nation.
Copper reserves: 60 million metric tons in 2022
Afghanistan holds a remarkable position on the global map, boasting one of the largest untapped copper deposits. These reserves are estimated to be around 60 million metric tons and are mainly concentrated in the Aynak deposit, situated to the south of Kabul. Despite this abundant potential, the process of extracting and utilizing these resources encounters noteworthy hurdles encompassing logistical complexities, social considerations, and security concerns. Effectively tapping into this resource requires substantial investment, meticulous planning, and a strategic partnership with international allies.
Copper reserves: 53 million metric tons in 2022
Taking the impressive seventh position globally, Mexico proudly houses a substantial copper reserve, totaling a remarkable 53 million metric tons. Notably, a significant share of these reserves finds its home in Cananea, nestled within the state of Sonora. This region is renowned for hosting one of the largest open-pit copper mines on a global scale. The Buenavista del Cobre mine situated in Cananea stands out with its remarkable output capacity of 525 thousand metric tons, clinching the prestigious fifth spot among the world’s highest mine output capacities.
Copper reserves: 46 million metric tons in 2022
Based on recent assessments, India lays claim to a considerable reserve of approximately 46 million metric tons of copper. Notably, a substantial portion of these reserves, characterized by their high-grade copper ore, can be found within the Balaghat Mine situated in Madhya Pradesh. This mineral-rich site stands as a testament to the subcontinent’s abundant mineral heritage. The presence of this reserve holds the potential to significantly contribute to India’s domestic copper sector, creating avenues for export expansion. However, realizing this potential requires substantial investments and the development of robust mining infrastructure.
9. United States
Copper reserves: 44 million metric tons in 2022
Taking the impressive ninth spot on a global scale, the United States proudly holds a substantial reserve of approximately 44 million metric tons of copper. Notably, the majority of these reserves are situated within the Safford and Morenci mines, both located in Arizona. These reserves predominantly take the form of porphyry copper deposits, serving as a testament to the geological richness of the region. These Arizona-based reserves have a significant impact on various sectors within the nation, including technology, construction, and energy. They also underscore copper’s enduring significance within an increasingly electrified economy.
Historically, the United States held the title of the world’s largest copper producer until the year 2000, primarily due to its advanced mining technology. However, in the years following 2000, Chile emerged as the frontrunner in the global copper sector, overtaking the United States in terms of production.
Copper reserves: 31 million metric tons in 2022
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) claims a respectable 10th position on the global list of countries with substantial copper reserves. Impressively, the DRC possesses a significant stockpile of 31 million metric tons of copper reserves. This rich reserve finds its main concentration within the copper belt situated in the Katanga Province. Notably, when it comes to actual copper production, the Kolwezi Province takes the lead in the DRC.
Within the Kolwezi Province, the Kamoa-Kakula copper mine stands as a notable contender, boasting an impressive output capacity of 340 thousand metric tons. This achievement secures the mine’s spot as the 14th highest in the world in terms of copper production. It’s noteworthy that this position is shared with the Kanshansi mine in Zambia.
Copper reserves: 30 million metric tons in 2022
Taking a noteworthy 11th position on the global stage, Poland boasts a significant copper reserve, totaling an impressive 30 million metric tons. The majority of these valuable resources find their focal point within the Lower Silesian Voivodeship, a region renowned for its abundant mineral wealth. Notably, the operation of a series of mines within this area is overseen by KGHM Polska Miedź, a key player in the production of both copper and silver on a global scale.
The sustainable management and effective utilization of these valuable reserves hold paramount importance. These efforts are crucial to sustaining Poland’s influential role within the realm of global copper production.
Copper reserves: 27 million metric tons in 2022
According to the latest findings from the USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries 2023 report, China secures the 12th position worldwide in terms of copper reserves. Impressively, the nation boasts a significant reserve of around 27 million metric tons of copper. The focal point of these valuable resources lies in Eastern China, particularly within the provinces of Guizhou and Yunnan. These regions play host to some of the most sizable copper deposits found within the country, serving as a vital foundation for China’s mineral resources.
Copper reserves: 24 million metric tons in 2022
Indonesia has secured the 13th position on the global list of countries with notable copper reserves. Impressively, the nation’s reserves of this valuable metal amount to approximately 24 million metric tons. This substantial reserve mirrors the abundant geological wealth present within Indonesia, particularly evident in regions such as Grasberg. Notably, the Grasberg region hosts one of the world’s most significant gold and copper mines, underscoring Indonesia’s geological bounty.
The Grasberg site, situated in Papua, holds a special distinction, being home to the copper mine operated by Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX). This mine boasts an impressive copper mining capacity of 800 thousand metric tons, solidifying its position as the second highest in the world.
Copper reserves: 20 million metric tons in 2022
Nestled within Central Asia, Kazakhstan emerges as a resource-rich nation, securing the 14th position globally in terms of proven reserves. Impressively, these reserves, estimated at around 20 million metric tons, serve as a valuable strategic asset for the country’s economy. This abundance substantiates Kazakhstan’s notable influence within the realm of international mining, showcasing its role on the global stage. With such substantial reserves at its disposal, the nation is well poised for long-term sustainability in copper production, thereby potentially strengthening its position within the global copper market.
Adding to its copper prowess, the Aktogay Project located in East Kazakhstan demonstrated its mettle by producing a remarkable 136,400 tons of copper in the year 2021. This accomplishment led the Aktogay Project to clinch the coveted title of the largest copper-producing mine within the country.
Copper reserves: 19 million metric tons in 2022
Amidst challenging working conditions, Zambia’s position within the global mining sector remains resolute and substantial. The country’s impressive mineral wealth, particularly its copper resources, asserts a prominent stance. Zambia’s confirmed copper reserves tally at approximately 19 million metric tons, firmly securing its place among nations boasting significant copper reserves on the global stage. These valuable reserves are notably spread across two key regions: the Copperbelt Province and the Northwestern Province.
The Kansanshi copper mine, nestled within the Northwestern province, stands out as a notable contributor to Zambia’s copper prowess. With an impressive output capacity of 340 thousand metric tons, this mine secures the 14th spot globally in terms of throughput. Amidst challenges, Zambia’s dedication to harnessing its mineral treasures stands as a testament to its enduring commitment within the mining landscape.
Copper reserves: 18 million metric tons in 2022
With pride, Namibia showcases a substantial reserve of 18 million metric tons of copper. These reserves find their focal point within the Otjihase and Matchless mines, both situated in the Windhoek Rural district. These valuable resources not only carry immediate significance but also harbor immense potential for driving Namibia’s economic growth in the future. This treasure trove emphasizes the critical importance of implementing sustainable strategies for the responsible exploitation of these reserves, ensuring a balanced approach that benefits both the nation and the environment.
Copper reserves: 15.8 million tons in 2022
Within its borders, Turkey harbors considerable untapped mineral wealth, including an estimated 15.8 million metric tons of copper reserves, as reported by the Turkish government. The heart of these reserves lies within the Egani-Maden region, a name synonymous with extensive copper deposits. This region has earned a reputation for being a hotbed of valuable resources, reflecting Turkey’s potential as a significant player in the world of minerals.
Copper reserves: 12.3 million tons in 2022
Based on recent geological investigations, Pakistan proudly showcases a notable reserve of around 12.3 million tons of copper. This resource holds considerable economic promise and potential. Most of these valuable reserves find their home within the Reko Diq region, nestled within the Balochistan province. Despite their substantial presence, these resources have yet to be fully harnessed and exploited, signifying a future of untapped possibilities.
Copper reserves: 9.6 million tons in 2022
According to data from the OECD, Brazil boasts a noteworthy copper reserve totaling 9.6 million metric tons. This significant resource secures the country’s position as the 19th largest holder of copper reserves on a global scale. The standout among these deposits lies in Salobo, located within the Amazon Basin. This particular deposit serves as a crucial cornerstone within Brazil’s vibrant mining sector, underscoring the nation’s potential and influence within the realm of minerals.
Copper reserves: 7.6 million metric tons in 2022
At present, Canada proudly occupies the 20th spot on the global stage as a holder of copper reserves, as highlighted by the United States Geological Survey. Impressively, the country boasts a significant cache of approximately 7.6 million metric tons of copper reserves, attesting to the geological wealth that Canada possesses. These valuable resources find their main concentration across regions such as British Columbia, Ontario, and Newfoundland. This mineral abundance serves as the backbone of a flourishing mining industry, contributing to the employment of numerous individuals and driving economic vitality in the nation.