That dollar amount reflects a 59.8% increase since 2017 when exported copper was worth $55.4 billion. Year over year, globally exported copper accelerated by 52.1% from $58.2 billion for 2020.
The 5 biggest exporters of copper ore are Chile, Peru, Australia, Indonesia and Canada. Collectively, that concentrated group of suppliers shipped almost two-thirds (64.6%) of the total value for exported copper ore during 2021.
Copper is a relatively soft, malleable and ductile metal which is the preferred electrical conductor for most forms of electrical wiring with one caveat. Copper is excluded from 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.
Applying a continental lens, well over half (55%) of worldwide copper ore exports came from Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Asia was the source for another 18.8% of the global total, ahead of 11.8% worth of copper ore exported from North America.
Smaller percentages of international sales originated from Australia and Papua New Guinea in Oceania (7.6%), Europe (5%) and Africa (1.7%).
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 25 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of copper ore during 2021.
- Chile: US$26.7 billion (30.1% of exported copper ore)
- Peru: $15.2 billion (17.2%)
- Australia: $5.8 billion (6.6%)
- Indonesia: $5.4 billion (6.1%)
- Canada: $4.1 billion (4.7%)
- Mexico: $3.42 billion (3.9%)
- Brazil: $3.37 billion (3.8%)
- Mongolia: $2.98 billion (3.4%)
- United States: $2.92 billion (3.3%)
- Panama: $2.8 billion (3.2%)
- Kazakhstan: $1.8 billion (2.1%)
- Taiwan: $1.31 billion (1.5%)
- Russia: $1.25 billion (1.4%)
- South Korea: $1.19 billion (1.3%)
- Spain: $1.11 billion (1.3%)
- Papua New Guinea: $884.4 million (1%)
- Serbia: $855.1 million (1%)
- Georgia: $817.7 million (0.9%)
- Armenia: $769.3 million (0.9%)
- Saudi Arabia: $673.8 million (0.8%)
- Democr. Rep. Congo: $601.7 million (0.7%)
- Ecuador: $490.1 million (0.6%)
- Turkey: $454.7 million (0.5%)
- Bulgaria: $426.1 million (0.5%)
- Portugal: $325.2 million (0.4%)
By value, the listed 25 countries shipped 96.8% of global copper ore exported in 2021.
Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing copper ore exporters since 2020 were: Serbia (up 820.9%), South Korea (up 205.6%), Ecuador (up 176.2%) and Panama (up 166.5%).
The Democratic Republic of the Congo was the lone top supplier to post a decline in its sales of exported copper ore via a -26% drop year over year.
Countries Exporting Highest Volumes of Copper by Shipment Weight
The following listing reveals which countries shipped the greatest tonnage of copper ore during 2021.
By shipment value, the listed top exporters accounted for 87.7% of all copper ore sold on international markets.
- Chile: 12,907,913 tons of exported copper (up 1.1% from 2020)
- Peru: 6,631,177 tons (up 7.8%)
- Indonesia: 2,235,454 tons (up 75.4%)
- Australia: 1,729,294 tons (down -3.4%)
- Mexico: 1,551,769 tons (down -14.6%)
- Brazil: 1,185,899 tons (up 3.4%)
- Panama: 1,181,164 tons (up 60.9%)
- Mongolia: 1,177,559 tons (down -15.6%)
- Kazakhstan: 991,771 tons (down -20.7%)
- Spain: 629,316 tons (up 7.9%)
- Russia: 622,403 tons (up 108.7%)
- South Korea: 560,768 tons (up 94%)
- Serbia: 503,371 tons (up 808.9%)
- Taiwan: 480,166 tons (up 30.7%)
- Armenia: 429,420 tons (down -15.8%)
The greatest increases in copper ore exports by shipment weight belong to Serbia (up 808.9% since 2020), Russia (up 108.7%) and South Korea (up 94%).
Posting the severest declines year over year were copper suppliers in Kazakhstan (down -20.7%), Armenia (down -15.8%), Mongolia (down -15.6%) then Mexico (down -14.6%).
Average Unit Prices for Exported Copper Ore
The worldwide average price for exported copper ore was US$2,369 per ton during 2021.
That global average reflects a 49.1% increase compared to $1,589 per ton for 2017. The latest annual inflation rate for copper ore exports is a 44.4% expansion from an average $1,641 for 2020.
The list below is sorted in ascending order for the top 15 exporters of copper ore by dollar value.
- Chile: US$2,065 per ton of exported copper (up 51% from 2020)
- Peru: US$2,297 per ton (up 54%)
- Australia: US$3,383 per ton (up 31.2%)
- Indonesia: US$2,409 per ton (up 27.3%)
- Canada: US$10,314 per ton (up 43%)
- Mexico: US$2,205 per ton (up 39.1%)
- Brazil: US$2,841 per ton (up 35.2%)
- Mongolia: US$2,534 per ton (up 98.7%)
- United States: US$8,102 per ton (up 34.7%)
- Panama: US$2,404 per ton (up 65.7%)
- Kazakhstan: US$1,860 per ton (up 59.1%)
- Taiwan: US$2,738 per ton (up 34.7%)
- Russia: US$2,010 per ton (down -9.7%)
- South Korea: US$2,114 per ton (up 57.5%)
- Spain: US$1,767 per ton (up 35.6%)
Among the top copper ore suppliers by total dollar value, the lowest average prices are charged by Spain ($1,767 per ton), Kazakhstan ($1,860 per ton) and Russia ($2,010 per ton).
The most expensive copper ore exports in 2021 were shipped by Canada ($10,314 per ton) and the United States of America ($8,102 per ton).
Countries Generating Highest Surpluses Trading Copper
The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for copper ore during 2021. 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$26.6 billion (net export surplus up 52.6% since 2020)
- Peru: $15.2 billion (up 66%)
- Australia: $5.6 billion (up 23.3%)
- Indonesia: $5.4 billion (up 123.3%)
- Canada: $3.4 billion (up 28.9%)
- Mexico: $3.02 billion (up 72.8%)
- Mongolia: $2.98 billion (up 67.8%)
- Brazil: $2.93 billion (up 48%)
- Panama: $2.84 billion (up 166.5%)
- United States: $2.82 billion (up 22.2%)
- Kazakhstan: $1.7 billion (up 18.3%)
- Russia: $1.2 billion (up 247.9%)
- Papua New Guinea: $884.4 million (up 24.3%)
- Georgia: $817.7 million (up 10.3%)
- Armenia: $769.3 million (up 27.3%)
Chile generated 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.
Countries Incurring Worst Deficits Trading Copper
The following countries posted the highest negative net exports for copper ore during 2021. 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$50.6 billion (net export deficit up 47.5% since 2020)
- Japan: -$13 billion (up 40.3%)
- South Korea: -$4.8 billion (up 25.5%)
- Germany: -$3 billion (up 26.2%)
- India: -$2.5 billion (up 205.9%)
- Bulgaria: -$1.7 billion (up 21.2%)
- Spain: -$1.6 billion (up 49%)
- Finland: -$1 billion (up 26.7%)
- Sweden: -$910.1 million (up 92.4%)
- Poland: -$462.9 million (up 54.9%)
- Malaysia: -$390.1 million (up 131.8%)
- Uzbekistan: -$344.9 million (up 176.2%)
- Namibia: -$293.9 million (down -48%)
- Taiwan: -$271.7 million (up 450.3%)
- Zambia: -$164.3 million (down -223.2%)
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 Chile’s Top 10 Exports, Iron Ore Exports by Country, Top Tin Exporters, Iron Ore Imports by Country and China’s Top 10 Imports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Field Listing: Exports – Commodities. Accessed on June 10, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 10, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 10, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 10, 2022
Wikipedia, Copper. Accessed on June 10, 2022
Wikipedia, Copper mining companies. Accessed on June 10, 2022