European Copper Institute

The Copper Industry


The Copper Industry is a Major Contributor to the European Economy

Europe has a relatively small, but efficient, copper mining industry, plus a world-class smelting and refining (copper producing) sector.

European companies have pioneered many of the metallurgical processing technologies used worldwide. It also boasts a well-established semi-fabricating sector, which converts both primary copper and scrap into a broad range of copper and copper alloy products for use further down the value chain.

Innovation, proximity to, and close cooperation with customers, plus anticipating market needs, have become the hallmarks of success for Europe’s copper semi-fabricating industry. This requires investment in product research and development, plus flexible equipment capable of meeting the highest quality requirements. The sector is made up of fewer than twenty large companies, together with a wide variety of more specialised players, many of whom offer products made of different metals and their alloys. In total, the European copper industry employs some 50,000 people directly and sustains the jobs of millions of others by delivering key products into a vast range of business and service activities.

While copper-intensive infrastructures are largely well-developed, they do need to be continuously refurbished and upgraded to satisfy growing demand and to deliver higher efficiencies. Transport systems are one area that has provided strong growth, driven by copper’s many applications in high speed trains, airport expansions and, more recently, hybrid and electric vehicles. Higher rates of economic growth and improved consumer purchasing power in Central and Eastern Europe have also increased demand growth across a wide range of applications.