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COPPER
Statistical Compendium


This publication includes data through 1990.
For recent statistics, please go the the Copper Statistics and Information page.

Copper smelting operations have been traced back to at least 5000 B.C., but modern history and growth in demand for copper began with the discovery and commercial development of electricity in the latter part of the 19th century. Electrical and electronic uses still dominate copper markets, composing more than 70% of U.S. copper consumption in 1990. Copper ranks third in world metal consumption after steel and aluminum. The largest refined copper-consuming nations have long been the industrialized countries with large manufacturing bases. The major copper-consuming nations or areas in 1990 were Western Europe (28.5%), the United States (19.1%), Japan (14%), the U.S.S.R. (10.2%), and China (5.3%). Since the 1950's, the trend has been toward increased consumption by the Asian countries, particularly Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, mainly to support export-oriented fabrication industries. More recently, China has indicated significant growth as it built new rod and brass mills for its increased domestic copper needs. In 1990, copper was mined in 54 countries. The eight leading mine producing nations, accounting for 68% of production, were Chile and the United States, each with 18%; Canada, 8%; the U.S.S.R. 7%; Zambia 5%; and China, Poland, and Zaire, each with 4% share of the world total. Only 16.5% of the total copper produced as concentrates was available for export to other nations. The eight leading refining nations, accounting for 67% of total refined metal production, were the United States, the U.S.S.R., Japan, Chile, Canada, Zambia, Belgium, and the Federal Republic of Germany. Copper and copper alloy scrap compose a significant share of the world's supply. In the United States, about 44% of total annual copper consumption was from copper in old and purchased new scrap. The largest international sources for scrap are the United States and Europe. Most U.S. trade in copper scrap is with the Far Eastern countries such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.


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