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Copper Production

Copper is tough, malleable and alloys well.

There are still enough copper reserves to last for thousands of years. New deposits are still always being found. Almost three quarters of the worlds production comes from South America, the largest single producer there is Chile (situation in 2006). Apart from that, around 40% of the copper is produced from recycled material. It's quite possible, that there is still antique copper in circulation.

There is still an increasing need in the motor-electric field.

Nonetheless, the price is rising because of the continuously increasing need. Although, because of the comparitively high specific gravity, copper radiators and the respective copper piping are no longer found in motor vehicles, indeed, the increasing requirements for electric/electronic wiring, compensates for this by far. There is no better conductor, except for the much more expensive silver. Outside of the motor field, where the high weight of copper is not that much of a disadvantage, there are also continued requirements for non-electric products. This metal has always played an important role as far as decorative materials are concerned. Thus, it is found in high quality, expensive roofing as well as in bronze artwork, which is a copper-tin alloy. In this case, copper is selected, because, apart from gold, it is the only metal which is not grey in colour. A further important alloy is the very much harder brass, copper with a zinc content.

Copper has been in circulation for about 9000 years.

When it is extracted as an ore, it generally contains only about 1% copper. Before the transporting of it is worthwhile, an, also grey-white, powder-like concentrate, with a Cu content of about 30% is created in a flotation process. Once it reaches its destination point, sulphur and other components with a lower boiling point are evaporated off in a high temperature oven. The lighter iron floats to the surface. The preliminary final product still has foreign matter content of 1 - 3%. In a process of electrolysis with a high amount of electric current, it is achieved that only the Cu-atoms move from the anodes (figure 6), to the special stainless steel plates which function as the cathodes (figure 5). There, the high-purity copper plates can be easily removed. By the way, throughout the whole process, even more precious materials, which also have special uses, remain behind as by-products.
In the last act, the raw-copper is melted together with suitable scrap material and is processed into thick wire, rods, piping, but also into the finest metal sheeting. 05/11

Copper is not very high tensile ...

Melting point: 1083C               Top of page               Index
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