Copper Today

Microscopic view of hot extruded copper (Copper Development Association Inc.)Copper has a place in almost every aspect of our lives. It carries electricity and the internet along wires, water through pipes, and even fights disease in hospitals thanks to its antimicrobial properties.

We take advantage of copper’s excellent properties as a thermal and electrical conductor. It can be shaped through engraving, casting, beating, drawing it into wire and rolling it into sheets. It is the basis of many useful alloys such as bronze (with tin) and brass (with zinc). Our demand for the metal is higher than it has ever been. Anti-microbial copper tap used in hospitals (Copper Development Association UK)

Copper ore is extracted from the ground through open pit and underground mining. Most copper ores are made of the sulphide mineral chalcopyrite. Chile is the largest copper producer today. About 80% of copper ever mined is still available for use, through recycling and re-use.

Copper is still processed in Wales, such as at Prysmian’s high- tech cable manufacturing plants in Aberdare and Wrexham where it forms the conductors that bring electricity into our homes and businesses.

 Robot vehicle transports copper strand to a cable-making line (© Prysmian Cables Ltd. Steve Willetts)Unloading bobbins from the copper strander (© Prysmian Cables Ltd. Steve Willetts)

Copper in Numbers

Copper in Numbers/Copr Mewn Rhifau (Copper Development Association UK)

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