The raw copper

Copper is an essential part of our everyday life. When showering copper pipes make sure that water can flow, in the car, it accompanies us to work, in the office it makes computer technology possible and at home copper wires make sure that the light can glow in the evening.


Why is copper actually called copper?

Copper is the first metal of mankind and has been used more than 10,000 years ago in the Stone Age. The easily treatable material was especially used in the decoration of objects of jewelery. With growing knowledge of metal, possible applications of the metal increased with time. The hammering, heating, pouring or mixing (alloying) with other metals such as lead, silver, zinc or tin led to the naming of a whole period of time: The Bronze Age. Originally used primarily in the Middle East, the use of copper quickly spread over time: The Egyptians already used copper for their water pipes, the Greeks processed copper in their buildings. The name of the metal, however, has its origin in Rome: The Romans called copper "aes cyprium" (ore from Cyprus) since Cyprus was the main supplier of copper. Cyprium converted into cuprum over time and from this word, the chemical symbol for copper Cu was later derived.

 

The process of copper extraction

Copper rarely occurs dignified, that is, in pure form - but always in the form of ores. The reduction of these ores takes place both in surface (about 90 percent) and in mining. The process of technical production and the conversion into pure copper is done in several steps: after the promotion, usually a preparation of ore takes place first, the so-called flotation, because the ores often only have a very small proportion of copper content of 0.4-2 percent. After this concentration process, the ore concentrates generally have a copper content between 20 and 30 percent.

The subsequent copper recovery can take place in two ways. On the "dry way" through a metallurgical melting (pyrometallic) method or the wet metallurgical (hydrometallurgical) way. The last step is the electrolytic refining, in which the copper is freed of remaining impurities.

The most important copper ore deposits are today in Chile and in the United States. Other important areas are Africa, Australia, China, Canada, Indonesia, South America, Russia and Poland.

The major copper deposits in Europe are bound to the copper shale - a  black Tonmergelgestein mineralized with copper at the base of the Zechstein formation extending from England via Germany to western Poland.

Nothing works without copper

How important copper has become in industrial production can be illustrated by many industries. Especially in modern electronics as well as in electronic and civil engineering, copper is considered as essential because of its high energy and thermal conductivity, its durability and corrosion resistance. In addition to the wiring of buildings, the metal is also used in the windings of electrical motors, coils, generators, solar panels, power-switching devices and control systems. Socio-economic developments such as the increasing interconnectedness of our office environment and the increasing demands on telecommunications at home, but also the growing safety and comfort requirements also increase the demand for and the importance of copper.

Recyclable - an unbeatable advantage

Copper is almost 100 percent recyclable. Already, approximately half of the annual copper demand in Germany is covered from recycled materials. The recycling of copper can therefore be considered as the largest and most economical copper mine in the world. The electrolytic refining process makes it possible to remove precious and base impurities from copper completely. Therefore, copper and its alloys can be recycled from used materials any number of times without sacrificing quality. Thus, it not only protects the natural resources but also reduces the energy consumption.

Kupferschieferlausitz

KSL