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The Global Copper Industry

How precious is copper? There once was a time when copper comprised the bulk of a United States cent piece (now it is mostly zinc composition), and recently news of copper thefts have brought awareness to its value. Thieves are willing to take copper from telephone wires and electric substations, often at great personal risk, to sell for scrap. Even in a progressively wireless global community, copper plays an important role in the way we work and live. As an excellent conductor of electricity and heat, this precious metal remains relevant and in high demand.

Copper Industry

Quick Facts About the Global Copper Industry

  • The average US household uses about four hundred pounds of copper for various purposes – wiring, cooking, and even for automobile parts. (Source: Arizona Mining Association)
  • Copper is one of the world’s most versatile elements. It is recyclable and malleable, and is used in the creation of brass and bronze.
  • The Statue of Liberty is perhaps the best example of a structure that uses a great amount of copper. Nearly eighty tons were used to build it.
  • According to, there could be as much as 300 million tons of copper not yet discovered in the United States alone.

On average, about 85 million metric tons may be mined annually around the world.

Top Countries in Copper Production

Copper Investing News, from their most recent records, reports the following nations lead the copper industry:

  • Chile – These days, people may associate Chile’s mining industry with the 2010 accident that had the world watching a dramatic rescue of thirty-three trapped miners. Before this occurred, Chile was producing more than five million tons of copper a year, and remains a world leader in the industry. Copper exports account for a third of the nation’s income.
  • United States – Over the last two centuries, copping mining in the US peaked in 2000 with more than two million metric tons produced. A dramatic decrease in production in the next decade resulted in a spike in value, which may explain an uptick in theft. (Source: United States Geological Survey)
  • Peru – Peru is currently the second larger copper producer in the world behind Chile. The country is also home to one of the largest such mines in the world. (Source: USGS)
  • China – Though averaging less than a million tons a year in production, China is a larger consumer of copper and has even looked elsewhere to supplement their reserves. Very recently, a Chinese businessman bid to takeover a mine in Botswana. (Source: CBS)

The Future of the Copper Industry

With the versatility of copper comes the growth in opportunity for its use. Copper is used in everything from minting currency to building cargo ships. Telephone lines may one day come down, but the copper used in them can be re-purposed for other necessities. Tapping into reserve mines in the US and a growth in recycling is sure to keep copper a valuable metal anywhere in the world.


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