Ranked: The World’s Largest Copper Producers
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Visualizing the World’s Largest Copper Producers
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Man has relied on copper since prehistoric times. It is a major industrial metal with many applications due to its high ductility, malleability, and electrical conductivity.
Many new technologies critical to fighting climate change, like solar panels and wind turbines, rely on the red metal.
But where does the copper we use come from? Using the U.S. Geological Survey’s data , the above infographic lists the world’s largest copper producing countries in 2021.
The Countries Producing the World’s Copper
Many everyday products depend on minerals, including mobile phones, laptops, homes, and automobiles. Incredibly, every American requires 12 pounds of copper each year to maintain their standard of living.
North, South, and Central America dominate copper production, as these regions collectively host 15 of the 20 largest copper mines.
Chile is the top copper producer in the world, with 27% of global copper production. In addition, the country is home to the two largest mines in the world, Escondida and Collahuasi.
Chile is followed by another South American country, Peru, responsible for 10% of global production.
|Rank||Country||2021E Copper Production (Million tonnes)||Share|
|#5||🇺🇸 United States||1.2||6%|
|🌍 Other countries||2.8||13%|
|🌐 World total||21.0||100%|
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and China share third place, with 8% of global production each. Along with being a top producer, China also consumes 54% of the world’s refined copper.
Copper’s Role in the Green Economy
Technologies critical to the energy transition, such as EVs, batteries, solar panels, and wind turbines require much more copper than conventional fossil fuel based counterparts.
For example, copper usage in EVs is up to four times more than in conventional cars. According to the Copper Alliance, renewable energy systems can require up to 12x more copper compared to traditional energy systems.
|Technology||2020 Installed Capacity (megawatts)||Copper Content (2020, tonnes)||2050p Installed Capacity (megawatts)||Copper Content (2050p, tonnes)|
|Solar PV||126,735 MW||633,675||372,000 MW||1,860,000|
|Onshore Wind||105,015 MW||451,565||202,000 MW||868,600|
|Offshore Wind||6,013 MW||57,725||45,000 MW||432,000|
With these technologies’ rapid and large-scale deployment, copper demand from the energy transition is expected to increase by nearly 600% by 2030.
As the transition to renewable energy and electrification speeds up, so will the pressure for more copper mines to come online.
Visualizing Asia’s Dominance in the Titanium Supply Chain
The global titanium supply chain is heavily dependent on Asian countries, including China. See where titanium comes from in this infographic.
Asia’s Dominance in the Titanium Supply Chain
Titanium is a unique metal with important applications in defense, aerospace, automotives, and medicine.
But before making it into all its end uses, titanium goes through a complex supply chain that involves both geopolitical and environmental challenges.
This infographic sponsored by IperionX explores the titanium supply chain and highlights the countries that dominate it.
The Stages of Titanium Production
Titanium’s end-to-end production process typically involves five steps:
The minerals ilmenite and rutile are the primary feedstocks for titanium production. These minerals are partly composed of titanium dioxide, which is later refined into titanium metal.
Sponge metal production
Ilmenite and rutile are refined into titanium sponge using the Kroll refining process.
Ingots and melted products
Titanium sponge is melted into ingots and other melted products.
Finished products like bars, sheets, and tubes are manufactured from ingots. This process typically generates large amounts of machining scrap.
Scrap or waste accounts for large material losses in the supply chain. The current scrap recirculation rate is less than 70%.
The Kroll process of refining titanium minerals to produce sponge metal is an 80-year-old method that involves high energy use and carbon emissions. It’s also heavily dependent on a few countries, primarily in Asia.
The Titanium Supply Chain
The mineral ilmenite accounts for 90% of all titanium mineral consumption. The other feedstock, rutile, is only mined on a small scale.
Here’s a look at the 10 largest ilmenite and rutile producers in 2021:
2021 titanium minerals production
(tonnes of titanium dioxide content)
|% of Total|
|South Africa 🇿🇦||995,000||10%|
China takes up the lion’s share of titanium mineral production at 36% . It produces three times as much of the minerals as Mozambique, the second-largest producer. Meanwhile, the U.S. is grouped with other countries with just 100,000 tonnes in annual production.
Besides titanium mineral extraction, China also dominates the next stage of the supply chain with 57% of global titanium sponge production:
|Country||Titanium sponge production (tonnes)||% of Total|
|Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦||3,700||2%|
*Represents production capacity for high purity specialty sponge, not available for commercial applications.
Between 2011 and 2021, China expanded its titanium sponge production capacity by 55% . Over the same period, U.S. production capacity almost declined completely, down 98% .
As a result of the lack of domestic production, the U.S. is now heavily reliant on foreign sources of titanium.
Short Supply: Titanium in the U.S.
Around 90% of U.S. titanium consumption is met by net imports, with most of it coming from Japan.
The U.S. uses titanium metal in various sectors, including defense , aerospace, electronics, and transport. With the demand for titanium projected to grow, a domestic titanium supply chain can help the U.S. become independent of imports.
IperionX is a U.S. metals technology company focused on developing the world’s first 100% recycled, low-cost, low-carbon titanium supply chain.
>>>Interested in learning more about IperionX’s titanium production technology? Click here to learn more now.
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