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Used in electric cables and wires, switches, plumbing, heating, roofing and building construction, chemical and pharmaceutical machinery, alloys (brass, bronze, and a new alloy with 3% beryllium that is particularly vibration resistant), alloy castings, electroplated protective coatings and undercoats for nickel, chromium, zinc, etc., and cooking utensils. The leading producer is Chile, followed by the U.S., and Indonesia.


It is believed the Egyptians (as early as 3900 B.C.E.) were the first people to create bronze, a mixture of copper and tin. This marked the beginning of the Bronze Age.

Modern culture and life is heavily dependent on copper and copper products. It is a metal that has the desirable physical properties of being malleable and ductile. Malleable means it can be hammered and molded into shapes; ductile means it can be drawn into wire. As a result, copper pipes are used to bring water to and through our buildings. Because it is such a good conductor of electricity, millions of miles of copper wire crisscross the landscape and run through our buildings. Copper alloys (such as brass) are important components in many household products and machines. It has been said that the amount of copper a society consumes is a direct indicator of the advancement of that society. In other words, those societies that consume larger amounts of copper are considered more technologically developed.

Copper ore may be found in large deposits, relatively close to the surface, and amenable to relatively low cost bulk mining methods. The combination of its physical properties, abundance, and low cost make it a valuable commodity.

Copper is a mineral. As a mineral, natural copper (also called native copper) is relatively rare. Most copper in nature is found in minerals associated with sulfur, or in the oxidized products of these minerals.

Copper also easily combines with a number of other elements and ions to form a wide variety of copper minerals and ores. Copper minerals occurring in deposits large enough to mine include azurite (Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2), malachite (Cu2CO3(OH)2), tennantite ((Cu,Fe)12As4S13), chalcopyrite (CuFeS2), and bornite (Cu5FeS4).




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