Copper is a relatively soft, malleable and ductile metal which is the preferred electrical conductor for most forms of electrical wiring excluding overhead electric power transmission where aluminum is often chosen. While roughly half of mined copper is used in electrical wires and cables, copper serves as an essential component in electrical motors, as well as a corrosion-resistant and weatherproof building material notably for roofs, spires, rain gutters and doors.
Over half (56.8%) of worldwide copper ore exports came from Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Asia was the source for 15.4% of the global total, ahead of 12.6% worth of copper ore exported from North America. Smaller percentages of international sales originated from Australia and Papua New Guinea (8.7%), Europe (4.3%) and Africa (2.2%).
For research purposes, the 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix is 2603 for copper ores and concentrates.
Copper Ore Exports by Country
Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of copper ore during 2019.
- Chile: US$18 billion (31% of exported copper ore)
- Peru: $11.9 billion (20.5%)
- Australia: $4.3 billion (7.4%)
- Canada: $2.8 billion (4.9%)
- United States: $2.34 billion (4%)
- Brazil: $2.25 billion (3.9%)
- Mexico: $2.1 billion (3.6%)
- Mongolia: $1.8 billion (3.1%)
- Spain: $1.5 billion (2.5%)
- Indonesia: $1.4 billion (2.4%)
- Kazakhstan: $1.2 billion (2%)
- Taiwan: $807.5 million (1.4%)
- Papua New Guinea: $799.1 million (1.4%)
- Georgia: $651.6 million (1.1%)
- Armenia: $626.7 million (1.1%)
By value, the listed 15 countries shipped 91.8% of all copper ore exported in 2019.
The listed 15 countries shipped 90.3% of global copper ore exported in 2019 by value.
Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing copper ore exporters since 2015 were: Taiwan (up 145,923%), Kazakhstan (up 271.1%), Georgia (up 236.6%) and Papua New Guinea (up 112.7%).
Four major suppliers posted declines in their exported copper ore sales: Indonesia (down -57.7%), United States (down -24.2%), Mongolia (down -21.3%) and Canada (down -5.6%).
The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for copper ore during 2019. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the surplus between the value of each country’s copper ore exports and its import purchases for that same commodity.
- Chile: US$17.9 billion (net export surplus up 40.3% since 2015)
- Peru: $11.8 billion (up 79.6%)
- Australia: $4.2 billion (up 15.2%)
- Canada: $2.3 billion (down -12.1%)
- United States: $2.2 billion (down -27.2%)
- Mexico: $1.9 billion (up 83.4%)
- Mongolia: $1.8 billion (down -21.3%)
- Brazil: $1.5 billion (up 50.9%)
- Indonesia: $1.4 billion (down -56.3%)
- Kazakhstan: $1.1 billion (up 292.4%)
- Papua New Guinea: $799.1 million (up 112.7%)
- Armenia: $626.7 million (up 97.9%)
- Democratic Republic of Congo: $581 million (up 37.4%)
- Panama: $581 million (no 2015 data)
- Laos: $472.9 million (down -23.9%)
Chile has the highest surplus in the international trade of copper ore. In turn, this positive cashflow confirms strong competitive advantage under this specific product category for South America’s seventh-largest country by population.
The following countries posted the highest negative net exports for copper ore during 2019. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the deficit between the value of each country’s copper ore import purchases and its exports for that same commodity.
- China: -US$34.1 billion (net export deficit up 75.8% since 2015)
- Japan: -$8.3 billion (up 0.3%)
- South Korea: -$3.2 billion (down -6.3%)
- Germany: -$1.9 billion (down -7.6%)
- Bulgaria: -$955.8 million (down -7.8%)
- Spain: -$913.4 million (down -34.1%)
- India: -$853.5 million (down -79.2%)
- Finland: -$588.4 million (down -8.6%)
- Namibia: -$502.5 million (up 68.9%)
- Sweden: -$399.9 million (down -14.2%)
- Russia: -$381.3 million (up 2003.6%)
- Poland: -$339.4 million (down -18.1%)
- Serbia: -$299.2 million (up 233.6%)
- Zambia: -$152.2 million (down -58.9%)
- Uzbekistan: -$123.9 million (no 2015 data)
The People’s Republic of China incurred the highest deficit in the international trade of copper ore. In turn, this negative cashflow highlights China’s strong competitive disadvantage for this specific product category but also signals opportunities for copper ore-supplying countries that help satisfy the powerful demand from the rapidly expanding Chinese economy.
Copper Ore Exporting Companies
Below is a sampling including the world’s largest copper ore producers. Show within parenthesis is the country where the business is headquartered.
- Donner Metals (Canada)
- First Quantum Minerals (Canada)
- Freeport-McMoRan (United States)
- Grupo México (Mexico)
- Hindustan Copper (India)
- Hudbay Minerals (Canada)
- KAZ Minerals (Kazakhstan)
- KGHM (Poland)
- Konkola Copper Mines (Zambia)
- Lundin Mining (Canada)
- Minera Escondida (Chile)
- MMG Limited (Australia)
- OZ Minerals (Australia)
- Palabora Mining Company (South Africa)
- Teck Resources (Canada)
The Chilean firm Minera Escondida operates the world’s highest-producing copper ore mine.
See also Iron Ore Exports by Country, Iron Ore Imports by Country and Chile’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Field Listing: Exports – Commodities. Accessed on May 16, 2019
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 16, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 16, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 16, 2019
Wikipedia, Copper. Accessed on May 14, 2020
Wikipedia, Copper mining companies. Accessed on August 29, 2019