Move over Codelco: Freeport plans to be the world’s No.1 copper miner

Move over Codelco: Freeport plans to be the world’s No.1 copper miner

Freeport’s Grasberg is the largest gold mine and the third largest copper mine in the world.

Freeport McMoRan (NYSE:FCX) may soon become the world’s largest copper producer, as the U.S. firm finishes expansions at some of its key mines, closing the gap with current No. 1 Chile’s state-controlled Codelco.

The Arizona-based company, reports Bloomberg, has mostly ignored the latest drops in the price of the industrial metal as well as China’s economy slowdown, forging ahead with plans to ramp up production.

And while rival Codelco is dealing with declining ore grades, Freeport is getting ready to kick off a $4.6 billion expansion of its Cerro Verde mine in Peru.

The company has already had a taste of what is like to be at the top. In 2013, Freeport briefly surpassed its rival Codelco and is still the world’s largest listed copper miner.

The Chilean miner is in the midst of executing a $25 billion investment plan aimed to expand its aging mines and search for new high-grade deposits, but time is against Codelco, which — according to Bloomberg — won’t be able to keep up with Freeport.

When it comes to overall supply, however, no other country comes close to Chile’s supremacy: it alone produces about a third of the world’s copper. Companies including Antofagasta (LON:ANTO), BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP), Anglo American (LON:ANGLO) and Sumitomo all have operations in the country, which hosts some of the world’s largest copper mines.