Copper is estimated to have been used by humans for close to 11 millennia and has been present at every stage of human civilization. It was one of the first metals to be mined and shaped into tools, weapons, and jewelry. In more recent times, copper has become an essential component of modern society.

It is conductive, malleable and ductile. It is a good thermal conductor, heating up and cooling down quickly. It is present in smartphones and computers, combustion engines and electric vehicles, as well as renewable energy systems, such as wind turbines and solar power panels.

It is also used in a wide range of industrial applications, including construction, electrical wiring, and plumbing. Due to its antibacterial properties, copper is also found in hospitals, on surfaces, and doorknobs. It’s used for statues and monuments. With its many uses, copper is integral to advancing our everyday life.

Copper: Metal of the future

Our copper assets in Canada consist of the Horne Smelter and the Canadian Copper Refinery (CCR), an integrated business based in the Province of Quebec.

Our Horne Smelter, located in Rouyn-Noranda, is a custom copper smelter, processing concentrate and recycled material from Glencore’s mining operations and third parties. The smelter produces anodes containing 99.1% copper, which are shipped to CCR in Montreal to be converted into 99.99% copper cathodes, and then sold on world markets.

In operation since 1927, the Horne Smelter is the only copper smelter in Canada. Similarly, in operation since 1931, the CCR Refinery is the only copper refinery in Canada.

Glencore Canada’s copper business in numbers (2022)

  • 2

    metal processing plants

  • c. 1,540

    employees & contractors

  • $345M

    value in the procurement of goods and services annually

  • 110,000

    tonnes in recycled materials processed

Strategic and Precious Metals

Strategic metals are vital to modern technology and industry and critical to support industrial and commercial purposes that are essential to the economy, defence, medicine and infrastructure.

Aside from producing copper cathodes, the copper business produces various strategic metals and chemicals, such as a concentrate of platinum and palladium, selenium, tellurium dioxide and nickel sulfate, as well as precious metals, such as gold and silver.

CCR is the largest producer of gold in Canada, a by-product of copper and zinc refining.

Silver is used for a wide array of purposes in modern life, including photography, jewelry, electronic components, coins and investments.

Platinum, palladium and selenium are used in a variety of products. As an example, platinum and palladium are used in autocatalysts, which convert pollutants from the combustion of fuel into less harmful gases.

Platinum and palladium


Tellurium dioxide is critical to efficient, thin-film photovoltaic cells that produce electricity from sunlight (i.e. solar panels). Meanwhile, in recent years, nickel sulfate has become the preferred chemical feed in the production of cathode materials for nickel-bearing lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) – primarily for electric vehicles (EVs).

Tellurium dioxide

Nickel sulfate


We are committed to reducing the environmental impacts of our operations. At the Horne Smelter, ambient arsenic emissions have been reduced by approximately 90% over the past 20 years.

In 2022, we announced an investment of more than C$500 million in the Horne Smelter to continue our journey of reducing arsenic emissions and with the aim of making the Smelter one of the world's lowest-emitting copper smelters. We invite you to read the detailed Environmental Improvement Plan behind the investment.

“The Horne Smelter has been a proud part of the Canadian and Quebec mining industry for almost 100 years. This investment will help ensure we are fit for the future and can continue to be North America’s leading e-scrap recycler.”

Claude Bélanger - Chief Operating Officer of Glencore’s North American copper assets

Another innovative initiative underway in our Copper Department is the adoption of environmental traceability technology that will potentially enable our copper business to further reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and improve its recycled material content.


The green energy transition is anticipated to significantly increase demand for copper because of its uses in expanding electricity networks and clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles. Recycling will contribute towards meeting demand for this metal.

Recycling: towards a circular economy

The Horne Smelter is one of the few plants in the world that recycles end-of-life electronics and other copper bearing materials. Its ability to process a wide range of such feeds is one of its unique features and it proudly contributes to the circular economy by processing more than 100,000 tonnes of recycled materials annually.

Each year, the Horne Smelter connects with the local community by hosting its Recycling Operation Day – an opportunity for citizens of Rouyn-Noranda to give a second life to their obsolete and unwanted electronics while enjoying other fun activities on site and learning more about the business.