Our goal


The goal of our industry research is twofold:

  • To provide transparency on the sustainable development performance of the Copper Alliance members across the entire copper production value chain;
  • To set a baseline to analyse trends and measure performance over time in relation to helping achieve the SDGs set out by the UN.

In selecting the indicators, we reviewed all of those already published by the Copper Alliance members and other commodity companies and we selected those for which well-established methodologies already exist. Our aim is to ensure that the indicators and the basic data behind them was already easily available and verifiable. Most of our members produce already audited data for their own sustainability reports and is therefore a trustworthy and reliable insight to industry practice and performance.

participating companies

Our members were asked to rate their performance against a range of indicators listed under four key pillars: environment; society; economy and governance. The following members responded:

Every company was not able to provide data for every indicator every year. When appropriate, averages of the past years have been used.

measuring across three sectors

In calculating the results, we try to avoid double or triple counting the volume of copper as it moves along the manufacturing chain. This is because the copper is mined and then the same copper, along with additional inputs from recycled copper, is smelted and refined before moving on to fabrication. We estimate that our data collection is derived from firms producing and using ten to eleven million copper tonnes per annum, representing around 40% of the annual world copper usage.

The members that responded operate across three distinct sectors of the copper industry. The first is mining, where members produce around eight million tonnes of ores and concentrates per annum. The second, refined production, involves members smelting and refining around nine million tonnes of ores and concentrates into cathodes, cakes, and billets annually. The third category is fabricates where members transform around four million tonnes per year of refined copper into semi-fabricates and products such as wire rods and sheets.


the indicators and their definitions

Indicator 1: CO2 Emissions

In order to calculate the amount of CO2 emissions generated by the copper industry, emissions from both direct and indirect sources were considered. Direct sources include, but are not limited to, greenhouse gas emissions from sources owned or controlled by the reporting organisation such as the generation of electricity, physical or chemical processing and transportation of materials. CO2 emissions from indirect sources include greenhouse gases resulting from the generation of purchased electricity. To calculate the CO2 emissions per tonne of copper, we have totalled the emissions and divided this by the copper content produced (in tonnes).

Indicator 2: Energy consumption/ intensity

The energy intensity is measured by taking the total energy consumption and dividing it by the copper content produced (in tonnes). The total energy consumption is the sum of direct and indirect energy consumption. Direct energy consumption can either be energy sources purchased or produced and sold. Indirect energy consumption is the energy required to produce and deliver purchased electricity and other intermediate energy products.

Indicator 3: Water recycled and reused

To calculate the amount of water recycled and reused, we sum up the volume of water that goes through another cycle before discharge to final treatment and/or discharge to the environment.

More details

sustainable copper environment indicator definitions

Indicator 1: Economic value distributed

This indicator considers how the organisation has created wealth for stakeholders. It is based on the sum of operating costs (e.g. payments to suppliers), employee wages and benefits, payments to providers of capital (e.g. dividends to shareholders, interest payments on loans), payments to government (e.g. taxes), and community investments (voluntary contributions and investment of funds in the broader community).

Indicator 2: Investment in sustainable operations 

The investment in sustainable operations by the copper industry is calculated by taking into account capital, research and development, environmental protection and occupational health and safety expenditure. All expenditure is based on direct company spending in the year it was made.

More details

sustainable copper economic indicators definitions

Indicator 1: Total Workforce

The total workforce is comprised of direct employees as well as supervised and / or indirect workers. In GRI terminology, the total workforce is the number of "workers", not only the "employees".

Indicator 2: Injury rate

To be consistent with the Total Workforce indicator, the Injury Rate applies to the sum of direct and supervised/indirect workers. The injury rate is calculated by taking the total number of injuries for every million hours worked. It is important to note that this indicator is for frequency, not severity.
More details

Copper workforce injury rate sustainable copper

Indicator 1: Sustainability reporting

This indicator considers the percentage of companies in the copper industry that publish sustainability reports. These reports enable greater organisational transparency about economic, environmental, social and governance performance. Such transparency and accountability builds stakeholders’ trust in organisations.

Indicator 2: Sustainable development principles or goals

Setting principles and goals for sustainability performance illustrates the organisation’s commitment to improve. This indicator is expressed as a percentage and is calculated by taking the total number of companies that have adopted sustainable development principles or goals and comparing this to the overall number.

More details

sustainable copper governance indicator definitions