Global Copper Reserves: Key Insights from Leading Countries

Global Copper Reserves
Published on: Mar 27, 2024

Recent data from the Copper Development Association (CDA) reveals that the global known copper reserves are approaching nearly 5.8 trillion pounds, with only approximately 0.7 trillion pounds (about 12%) having been extracted. Additionally, the latest figures from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) identify the top five countries with the largest copper reserves as Chile, Peru, Australia, Russia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Copper and Green Energy Transition

The widely used green energy sources, such as wind and solar power, heavily rely on copper conductive wires and cables. Estimates suggest that approximately 5 to 15 tons of copper are required for every megawatt-hour of installed wind and solar energy capacity. This underscores the pivotal role of copper in the development of green energy technologies.

Copper’s Role in Urbanization

Simultaneously, the escalating urbanization and construction demands are driving the sustained growth of copper products such as wires, cables, and pipelines. As a crucial component of the green energy transition and urbanization, the global copper supply has garnered significant attention, prompting the discussion of the “peak copper” concept, signifying concerns regarding the potential inadequacy of copper resources to meet the increasing demand sustainably.

Leading Copper Reserve Countries

  1. Chile
  • Copper Reserves: 190 million tons
  • As of 2023, Chile’s copper reserves can guarantee approximately 100 years of production at the country’s current extraction rate. This nation is also the largest global copper producer, with a 2023 output of approximately 5 million tons.
  1. Peru
  • Copper Reserves: 120 million tons
  • Peru’s copper reserves account for 12% of the global total. The country is a major copper producer, alongside the Democratic Republic of Congo, with an output of 2.6 million tons in 2023. Notably, the largest copper mine in Peru, Antamina, is operated jointly by BHP, Glencore, Teck Resources, and Mitsubishi.
  1. Australia
  • Copper Reserves: 100 million tons
  • Australia’s copper reserves represent approximately 10% of the global total. Key copper resources are concentrated in the Olympic Dam copper-uranium-gold mine in South Australia and the Mount Isa copper-lead-zinc mine in Queensland.
  1. Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Copper Reserves: 80 million tons
  • In recent years, the Democratic Republic of Congo has seen a rapid increase in copper reserves. The country’s major copper asset is the Kamoa-Kakula project, a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines and Zijin Mining Group.
  1. Russia
  • Copper Reserves: 80 million tons
  • Russia ranks fifth globally in copper reserves, with a production of only 910,000 tons in 2023. One of its largest copper mines, Udokan in Siberia, is owned by Udokan Copper and has announced plans for an expansive mining and metallurgical facility.

Base Metals Clean Energy Copper Gold