Copper is an element that is as essential today as it was historically. It is featured almost everywhere in our modern lives. It is the oldest metal known to man and was first discovered and used almost 10,000 years ago.
The red metal continues to be a major industrial metal because of its ability to be formed into many shapes (its ductility and malleability), its superior thermal and electrical conductivity and its resistance to corrosion. More recently, copper’s antimicrobial properties have led to the metal becoming increasingly important in the prevention of infection. Copper’s unique characteristics enable its uses to include heating, cooling and refrigeration, electrical wiring, power generation and transmission, and automotive components.
Copper is traded on the London Metals Exchange (LME), New York Commodity Exchange (COMEX) and Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE).
DID YOU KNOW?
- Today, the average mid-size car contains about 22.5 kg (50 lbs) of copper, while luxury cars contain, on average, around 1,500 copper wires, totalling about 1.6 km (1 mile) in length!
- Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, fuel cells and other technologies are all heavily reliant on copper due to its excellent conductivity. A typical 1.8 MW wind turbine will contain between 6,500-7,500 pounds (around 3 tonnes) of copper.
- Copper is used extensively in new generation airplanes and trains. New high‐speed trains can use anywhere from 2 to 4 tonnes of copper, significantly higher than the 1 to 2 tonnes used in traditional electric trains.