Controlling about 19 percent of the world's reserves of copper, Codelco—or the Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile—is an autonomous company owned by the government of . Codelco produced approximately 1.8 million metric tons of refined copper in 2016, roughly 11 percent of world's total, worth a whopping $123 billion, according to late 2017 prices.
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 Morenci and Safford minerals districts in North America; and the Tenke Fungurume minerals district in the Democratic Republic of Congo. FCX produced 1.7 million metric tons of refined copper in 2016, about 9 percent of the world's total.
Baar, Switzerland–based , a global commodity production and marketing company with 55,000 employees in 30 countries, produced 1.23 metric tons of copper in 2016. Glencore's copper assets include majority or full ownership stakes 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.
Australia-based produced over 1.2 million metric tons of refined copper in 2016 and 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 percent interest in Minera Escondida, the world's largest copper-producing mine, in Chile's Atacama Desert.
Southern Copper Corp., a subsidiary of Grupo México, with offices in Phoenix and major operations in Mexico and Peru, produced 743,000 metric tons of copper in 2016. The firm's major assets include the Cuajone and Toquepala mines in Peru and the Cananea mine in Mexico.
KGHM Polska Miedz—one of Poland's largest companies, with over 28,000 employees and annual gross revenues over $3 billion—produced 667,000 metric tons of copper in 2016. KGHM, which operates three mines, Lubin, Rudna, and Polkowice-Sierszowice, also produces significant quantities of silver annually.
British-Australian Rio Tinto produced approximately 504,000 metric tons of copper in 2016. Its key copper assets include Kennecott Utah Copper, which has been in existence for more than 100 years and operates the Bingham Canyon mine near Salt Lake City; a 40 percent share of the production from the Grasberg mine in Indonesia, which is one of the world’s largest copper and gold mines in terms of ore reserves and production; and a 30 percent share in the Minera Escondida copper mine in Chile’s Atacama Desert.
First Quantum, based in Vancouver, Canada, produced 494,000 metric tons of copper in 2016. 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 notes on its website.
Chilean mining group Antofagasta produced 477,000 metric tons of copper in 2016, a 15 percent increase compared to 2015. 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.
Brazilian mining firm Vale produced 453,000 metric tons of copper in 2016, a 7 percent increase over 2015. The strong performance was a result of the 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."
The 10 Biggest Copper Suppliers
Mining Giants Produced $644 Billion Worth of the Metal in 2016
The world's 10 biggest copper producers accounted for over 9,448 kilotonnes—or nearly 105 million U.S. tons (known as short tons)—of the in 2016, the most recent year for which figures are available, according to industry website mining.com. The top four companies accounted for more than 62 percent of that total. With copper going for $3.10 per pound as of fall 2017, according to infomine.com, the top 10 firms produced $644 billion worth of the metal.