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- Copper is a natural
element – a metal that has been one of mankind’s most useful and valuable
- Copper is also an
essential nutrient that is required by virtually all higher life forms.
- The world’s
two most important food crops – rice and wheat – are both highly dependent
on sufficient copper in soil.
- Copper is a ductile
metal with excellent electrical conductivity, and finds extensive use as
an electrical conductor, heat conductor, as a building material, and as a
component of various alloys.
- Two basic
production processes are used to produce pure copper from copper ore:
smelting and solvent extraction electro winning (SX-EW). Ore is mined
with less than 1 percent copper content. It is then concentrated at the
mining site into a concentrate having approximately 20 percent copper.
Under the traditional smelting process, the concentrate is shipped to
the smelter, blended, dried, and fed to the smelting furnace. The
blister copper is charged to the anode furnaces, where further
refinement takes place. The anode copper, now 99.5 percent pure copper,
is cast in copper anodes.
extraction electro winning is an alternative method of producing
purified copper from oxidized ores. In this process, a solution of
sulfuric acid is poured over the copper concentrate, leaching the copper
out of it. Currently, approximately 30 percent of copper is
produced using SX-EW; the rest is produced using the traditional
smelting process. The copper anodes are then taken to an electrolytic
refining plant, where 99.99 percent commercial grade copper is produced.
- Copper is an
essential component of dietary nutrition that enables the body to
metabolize energy and function properly.
- As with humans,
plants and animal health rely on adequate copper intake.
- Copper is low in
the reactivity series. This is important for its use for pipes,
electrical cables, saucepans and radiators.
- Copper is well
suited to decorative use. Jewellery, statues and parts of buildings can
be made from copper, brass or bronze and remain attractive for thousands
- Copper is cheaper
to recycle copper than to mine and extract new copper. Recycled copper
is worth up to 90% of the cost of the original copper. Recycling helps
to keep the cost of copper products down.
is likely to grow by 3.5% over the next three years, increasing the
critical demand supply gap. This could keep
prices firm in the international markets
- Industry believes
that demand is likely to register robust growth with the Government
targeting telephone density of 15% by 2010. The demand is likely to come
from rural areas.
- China is
the largest copper consuming country in the world, but its use of copper
is structurally different to that of most other countries and it is
defined by different characteristics.
- The residential
land use criterion in New Zealand assuming 10% of produce consumed is
home-grown is 130 mg/kg for copper
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