Copper is considered to be the most important metal next to steel and aluminums. It is a material of strategic advantage. Combination of its excellent properties such as high electrical the thermal con­ductivity, high strength, malleability, easy work­ability, corrosion resistance, precision cast ability, ability to produce alloys with other metals has made copper a valuable metal of varied uses in industries and household appliances. Its use is very popular in electrical industries, refrigerators, air-conditioners, automobile radiators, non-ferrous castings, kitchen utensils, bullet cases and bomb shells, etc.


Copper was produced in Singhbhum district of Jharkhand some 3,000 years ago but the first copper smelting factory was set up on modern lines by Singhbhum Copper Company in 1857 to under­take mining operations at Seraikela, Nandup and Jamjora areas of Jharkhand.

Thereafter all attempts were failed till 1924 when the Indian Copper Corpo­ration was set up in 1924 which produced copper at Ghatshila in 1928. This was the sole copper smiting plant in the country till its takeover by the govern­ment in 1 967 to constitute the public sector company of the Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL). Besides this public sector enterprise consisting of 8 plant complexes, there are three private secor companies with total copper metal production of 1,01,499 tones.


Producing Units

Presently there are 1 public sector (HCL) and 3 private sector companies engaged in the produc­tion of copper in the country.

1. Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL)

Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL), the main producer of primary copper in the country, was constituted on 9 November, 1967 as a public sector enterprise with Khetri Copper Complex as its main unit. The company also took over the Indian Copper Corporation in 1972. It has following plants operat­ing within its management:


(a) Khetri Copper Complex (KCC)

It is an integrated copper mining cum-ore refining unit which was set up in 1967 (smelting unit commissioned in February 1975). It exploits Khetri- Kolihan-Chandmari mines (capacity 6,500 tons of copper ore per day), a matching concentrator, smelter, electrolytic refinery and wire casting plants (capacity 31,000 tones recently increased to 60,000 tons of copper metal annually).

The unit also includes a sulphuric acid plant (capacity 1.82 lakh tones per annum), and a fertilizer plant (capacity 2 lakh tones per annum). Recently Khetri plant also collects copper ore from recently developed mine at Malanjkhand (Madhya Pradesh).

(b) Indian Copper Complex (ICC)


It is located at Ghatsila (Jharkhand). It com­prises copper mines at Mosabani, Rakha, Dhobani Rajdah, Tamapahar, Surda and Turamdih with min­ing capacity of 4,300 tons per day; concentrator plants at Mosabani and Moubhandar with a total capacity of 3,700 tons per day; a smelter plant with capacity of 16,500 tons per annum (being raised to 25,000 tons annually); an electrolytic refinery and wire bar casting plant (capacity 8,400 tons per annum each); a sulphuric acid plant (capacity 50,000 tons per annum; a brass rolling mill for manufacturing brass sheets; and a precious metal recovery plant for producing gold, silver, selenium and nickel (capacity 250 tons per annum).

(C) Malanjkhand Copper Project

It is an open cast copper mine in Balaghat district (M.P.) with capacity of producing about 2 million tons of copper ore (equivalent to 23,000 tons of copper metal per annum). The ore is sent to the Khetri Copper complex. It achieved a record production of20.82 lakh tone of ore during 1997-98.

(d) Rakha Project


It is located at Rakha (Singhbhum, Jharkhand), which includes Rakha mines block, Roam Sideshwar and furnace oil and oxygen plant. The company has achieved the capacity utilization of 60-65 per cent. During 1997-98 it produced 21,000 tons of anodes (unrefined copper).


India has to import about 41 per cent of its requirements of copper from abroad, mostly from

(E) Dariba Copper Project


It has been located at Dariba (Rajasthan) with capacity of handling 100 tons of ore per day.

(f) Chandmari Copper Project

Its location lies at Chandmari in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan. It includes open-cast mining with capacity of 1,000 tons of copper per day. The ore is sent to Khetri for processing.

(g) Taloja Copper Project


It is located at Raigad in Maharashtra manu­facturing copper rods. The plant is based on im­ported copper cathodes.

(h) Lapso Kyanite Mines

These mines lie in Singhbhum district of Jharkhand.

The HCL achieved ore production of 44.96 lakh tones, ore mining of 44.19 lakh tones and production of 41,440 tones of metal-in-concentrates during 1997-98. These are 15 percent, 12 per cent and 11 per cent respectively higher than the achievements of 1996-97. HCL’s production of re­fined copper (cathodes) was 42,375 tons during the year, representing a 10 per cent increase over the previous year. Similarly blister copper output is estimated to have amounted to 44,092 tons against 41,416 tones.

HCL also had record production of precious metals with gold output at 684 kg, silver at 6,454 kg and selenium at 13,350 kg during 1997-98. During 1998-99 the company has targeted to produce 45,000 tons of cathodes or roughly 7 per cent higher than the last year. The target for CC copper rods has been fixed at 38,600 tones to show a growth of 23 percent.

2. Sterile Industries

It is a private sector company which uses imported copper concentrates to produce cathodes. It has a smelting plant at Tuticorin (Tamil Nadu) which has been commissioned in 1997-98 with an annual capacity of 60,000 tones. The company has a proposal to expand this capacity to 1.50 lakh tones in 2000-01. Its expansion programme also includes 15 MW captive power plants based on diesel

3. Birla Copper Ltd.

It is a division of Indo-Gulf Fertilisers which has set up the Rs. 1,850 crore copper projects at Dahej (Gujarat) with smelting capacity of 1 lakh tones. This capacity will be increased to 1.5 lakh tones by 2001. Indo-Gulf has secured technology collabora­tion from Outkumpu of Finland for the smelter and from MIM Technology of the U.K. for the refinery. The smelter is based on imported copper concen­trates for which a captive jetty has been set up.

The company’s 80,000 tone annual capacity copper rod plant has been commissioned in March 1997. Apart from meeting domestic demand, Indo Gulf expects to export copper metal to international market.

4. Swill Copper Ltd.

Swill is setting up a 50,000 tones annual capacity of copper cathode plant at Bharuch (Gujarat) under the technical assistance from Boliden of Swe­den. It will be based on copper scrap of which 80 per cent will be imported from the United States, Afri­can countries and the Asia Pacific Region.

5. Metdist India Ltd.

The company proposed to set up a 2,000 crore copper project at Pipavav (Gujarat) to produce annu­ally 1.50 lakh tones of cathodes with technical collaboration from M/S Mitsubishi of Japan. Due to opposition and delay the project has been scrapped.


The total production of copper in the country was 7,152 tons in 1951 -52 which increased to 25.3 thousand tons in 1980-81 and 43.7 thousand tons in 1997-98. The domestic supply is only able to meet 59 per ant of the home demand. Electrical industries are the largest consumer of copper (34%) in the country followed by electronics and telecommunication (18%), handicrafts (11%), building and construction (9%), transport (8%), con­sumer durables (8%), process industry (6%), general engineering (5%), and defense and mint (3%).

Zambia, Canada, United States and Zaire. Almost all the imports are handled by the NMTC which has entered into a long-term agreement with Zambia for the supply of copper.


The future of copper industry is secure in India and the country is emerging as a potential market. Although the metal has been substituted by the aluminums in electrical industry to some extent but there is not much shortfall in the demand.

In the coming future there will be increased demand for copper in traditional areas such as power cables, winding wire, alloys, house and building wiring, consumer goods, defense mint and other industrial uses. Hence the industry has bright prospects ahead.