Referring to cumulative copper production since the dawn of humankind, 94% of the world's copper production has been extracted since 1900. The data fits reasonably well an exponential growth curve with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.1 percent.
From the ICSG, we also have a long time series on refined copper usage which is initially identical to mining production, but as the stock builds up and copper applications reach the end of their useful life, secondary copper resources begin to add to primary copper production. Hence the CAGR for refined copper production is slightly higher: 3.3%.
Sometimes, the comment is made that "we'll mine as much copper in the coming 25 years as since the past 4000 years". While this comparison is about right and sounds impressive, it is what the copper industry has been delivering since the 40s:
|Year||Annual mining production (ktpa)||Cumulative production since the dawn of humankind (million tonnes)||Growth of cumulative production over a 25-year period|
|2021 (est)||21 124||822||2.00|
Data for World Copper Mine Production and World Copper Refined Usage for 1900 - 2021 (est) provided by ICSG.
Last update: February 28, 2022