Global trade in copper
Copper mining is concentrated in Latin America, while more than half of the world’s copper is consumed in Asia. This necessitates a global copper trade. Here, we’ll discuss the key drivers of the global copper trade. Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) is a major copper producer and forms 4.22% of the Materials Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLB). Southern Copper Corp. (SCCO), Glencore Plc. (GLNCY), and Barrick Gold (ABX) are the other major copper producers.
Copper is traded in various forms across its value chain. It is traded internationally as copper concentrates, anodes, cathodes, and ingots. Copper semis—semi-finished products—scrap are also major items in the global copper trade. The above chart shows global copper imports by product category.
Copper is also traded as fabricated items and as end-use products, which is a form of indirect copper trade. For example, importing electronic equipment also means the import of copper, used in its production.
China is the largest importer of copper ores, anodes, and refined copper. Chile, on the other hand, is the biggest exporter across these product categories. Japan is the second largest importer of copper ore and concentrates, followed by India. These countries then process copper ore into refined copper.
Japan is the second largest importer of copper ores, as well as the second biggest exporter of refined copper. Japan also indirectly exports copper through its export of automobiles and electronic products.
Copper prices are a key driver for copper producers. In the next section, we’ll analyze the dynamics of copper pricing.