How much copper has been found in the world?

To date, roughly 700 million metric tons of copper have been produced around the world. This would fit into a cube measuring about 430 meters on a side.

Identified deposits contain an estimated 2.1 billion metric tons of additional copper, which brings the total amount of discovered copper to 2.8 billion metric tons. This would fit into a cube measuring 680 meters on a side. It is also estimated that undiscovered resources contain about 3.5 billion metric tons of copper, which would mean that there are roughly 6.3 billion metric tons of copper on Earth. This would fit into a cube measuring about 890 meters on a side.

Of the identified copper that has yet to be taken out of the ground, about 65% is found in just five countries on Earth -- Chile, Australia, Peru, Mexico, and the United States.  

Learn more at the USGS commodity website for copper.

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Where can I find information about mineral commodities?

For statistical information about mineral commodities, visit the USGS Commodity Statistics and Information website. For locations outside the United States, the USGS International Minerals Statistics and Information website is the best starting point.

How much silver has been found in the world?

Of the 1,740,000 metric tons of silver discovered to date, 55% is found in just four countries on earth. All the silver discovered thus far would fit in a cube 55 meters on a side. Learn more at the USGS commodity website for silver .

How much gold has been found in the world?

About 244,000 metric tons of gold has been discovered to date (187,000 metric tons historically produced plus current underground reserves of 57,000 metric tons). Most of that gold has come from just three countries: China, Australia, and South Africa. The United States ranked fourth in gold production in 2016. All of the gold discovered thus far...

How large is a lifetime supply of minerals for the average person?

At today's level of consumption, the average newborn infant will need a lifetime supply of 800 pounds of lead, 750 pounds of zinc, 1,500 pounds of copper, 3,593 pounds of aluminum, 32,700 pounds of iron, 26,550 pounds of clays, 28,213 pounds of salt, and 1,238,101 pounds of stone, sand, gravel, and cement.

How many pounds of minerals are required by the average person in a year?

To maintain our standard of living, each person in the United States requires over 38,449 pounds of minerals each year: 9,426 pounds of stone 6,768 pounds of sand and gravel 655 pounds of cement 142 pounds of clays 338 pounds of salt 244 pounds of iron ore 195 pounds of phosphate rock 34 pounds of soda ash 28 pounds of aluminum 13 pounds of copper...

How do we extract minerals?

The primary methods used to extract minerals from the ground are: Underground mining Surface (open pit) mining Placer mining The location and shape of the deposit, strength of the rock, ore grade, mining costs, and current market price of the commodity are some of the determining factors for selecting which mining method to use. Higher-grade...

What minerals produce the colors in fireworks?

Mineral elements provide the color in fireworks. Barium produces bright greens; strontium yields deep reds; copper produces blues; and sodium yields yellow. Other colors can be made by mixing elements: strontium and sodium produce brilliant orange; titanium, zirconium, and magnesium alloys make silvery white; copper and strontium make lavender...
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Date published: November 18, 2015

Estimates of Undiscovered Copper in Middle East Ten Times Current World Production

More than 180 million metric tons of undiscovered copper resources may be found in an area of the Middle East that covers Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, western Pakistan and southwestern Afghanistan, according to a recent assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Date published: May 12, 2015

No Silver Bullet, But a Silver Lining

Once so cheap it was used for pennies, copper is now so valuable that pennies contain almost no copper and they still cost more than one cent to make.

Date published: March 30, 2015

New Report Indicates Potential for Five Times Known Copper Deposits Yet to Be Found in Central Asia

SPOKANE, Wash. — A new U.S. Geological Survey report covering major parts of the world’s largest mountain belt in central Asia estimates the existence of about five times as much copper in undiscovered deposits as has been identified to date. These areas host 20 known porphyry copper deposits, including the world class Oyu Tolgoi deposit in Mongolia that was discovered in the late 1990s.

Date published: March 6, 2014

Global Undiscovered Copper Resources Estimated at 3.5 Billion Metric Tons

The first-ever, geologically-based global assessment of undiscovered copper resources estimates that 3.5 billion metric tons of copper may exist worldwide. The U.S. Geological Survey outlined 225 areas for undiscovered copper in 11 regions of the world.  The amount of undiscovered global copper estimated by the USGS would be enough to satisfy current world demand for more than 150 years.

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October 26, 2017

2017 Oct. Public Lecture — Global Trends in Mineral Commodity Supplies

  • The U.S. is increasingly reliant on supply of mineral raw materials from other countries.
  • Advanced technologies are increasingly making use of nearly the entire periodic table of the elements.
  • Dynamic studies of critical and strategic mineral supply and demand can identify emerging potential supply risks.
  • The USGS - National Minerals
...
January 27, 2017

NMIC - 2017 Mineral Commodity Summaries Release

The National Minerals Information Center, the primary agency for collecting and analyzing nonfuel minerals information, releases the 2017 Mineral Commodity Summaries, a collection of reports on over 85 commodities essential to the U.S. economy and national security.

Ray Copper Mine
December 13, 2016

Ray Copper Mine

Copper mines can be loud and sometimes chaotic places, but they provide Zambia with plenty of revenue and jobs. Photograph credit: Mark Cocker, USGS

Copper
December 13, 2016

Copper

Zambia is the eighth largest copper producer in the world. USGS assessments estimated that the potential for undiscovered copper deposits in Zambia is larger than once thought. Photograph credit: USGS

Detail of a “culture” separate, which was represented in the color black on a USGS topographic map
April 19, 2016

Copper Plates

Image: Engraved Copper Map Plate
March 15, 2016

Engraved Copper Map Plate

The USGS is offering surplus engraved copper plates for sale through government auction.

The old Kennecott copper mill taken from the south with the characteristic red colored buildings
June 10, 2013

The old Kennecott copper mill and shop

The old Kennecott copper mill and shop.  The buildings are painted with red, characteristic for this mill. Kennecott was once a thriving mine and mill during the early 1900s. The mines are 5 miles up the mountain.

USGS
September 4, 2008

Why Do Minerals Matter?

You might be surprised where minerals pop up; they're just about everywhere. We sit down with Kathleen Johnson, USGS Mineral Resources Program Coordinator, as she walks us through just how valuable minerals are to our lives.

Image: Copper

Copper

Sample of native copper.