The global production of copper from ores has increased by 64% over the past two decades, from about 8.3 million tonnes (Mt) in 1982 to a projected production of 13.6 Mt in 2001. At the end of 2001 and in early 2002, the copper stocks were unusually high (about 1 Mt), and this phenomenon has tended to weaken mine production. The dominant position of Chile in the world's copper production has been further strengthened during the past five years (altogether, Chile has trebled its share of the global copper production since 1982: from 12.6% to 35%), and the output in 2001 was more than 4.7 Mt (SGU, 2002).

The International Copper Study Group (ICSG) made an estimate of the development of the global refining capacity over the period 2002 - 2006. They arrived at a likely increase by some 2 Mt, from 18.23 Mt in 2002 to 20.25 Mt in 2006 (SGU, 2003).

European countries have kept a relatively constant level of copper production during the past 5 years. If Russia is not included among the European countries, it is Poland that is by far the leading copper producer in Europe, with a production about 2.5 times that of the present EU Member States. Among the EU Members, Portugal and Sweden are producing at about the same level, 80 kt/year. The central and southern African countries have largely lost their former strong position as copper producers. This is particularly true for the Democratic Republic of Kongo (former Zaire), where current copper production is only about 6% of what it used to be in the early 1980s (SGU, 2002).

Among major copper consumers, P.R. of China has taken the leading role with a rise in copper consumption over the period 1998 to 2002 of about 17% per year. Asia, except Japan, accounts today for some 40% of the global copper consumption (SGU, 2003).

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