One of the highest sought metals throughout the course of history, the importance of copper has not diminished with time, a fact appreciated and acted upon by the 8 countries that produce the most copper in the world.
Copper is a highly malleable and ductile metal which is soft in texture and boasts high thermal and electrical conductivity as well. The color of copper which has been freshly exposed is generally a reddish orange in nature.
Copper is found in nature as a pure metal and was actually the first metal used by humans, around 10,000 years ago. Not only that, it was also the first metal which was smelted from its own ore, which occurred around 7,000 years ago as well as the first metal which was cast in a mold, the first occurrence of which took place around 6,000 years ago.
Copper compounds have been found as well, with copper salts boasting different colors which are then used as pigments. Copper is often used in the decorative art, as it is able to enhance the art with its distinctive colors.
You might be surprised to know that copper is actually essential for the existence of all living organisms even though it appears only in trace amounts as a dietary mineral. This is due to the fact that it is a key ingredient of a respiratory enzyme. In humans, copper is present, again in trace amounts, in the bones, liver, and the muscles. Of course, our main focus regarding this article is about copper which exists outside the human body.
Copper compounds have their uses as well, being used in wood preservatives, fungicides, and bacteriostatic substances.
While a person who weighs 60 kilograms contains around 0.1 grams of copper, that negligible amount is actually integral to the well-being of the person.
Another interesting characteristic of copper is that while it does not react with oxygen, it does react with the oxygen in our atmosphere, which in turn leads to the creation of copper oxide. However, copper oxide does not rust, unlike iron when it reacts with oxygen. Instead, copper oxide actually creates a protective layer, preventing the copper from being corroded.
Countries which lead in the production of copper extract it from mines. They extract copper sulfide from the mines or the pits, which contains less than 1% of copper. On the other hand, there is an alternative way for the production of copper, with the method being known as the in-situ leach process. In this method, holes are drilled directly into the copper deposits in mines, either through hydraulic fracturing or through the use of explosives. Another popular material extracted through mining is coal. For more information, you can visit the 8 countries that produce the most coal in the world.
While, as mentioned earlier, copper has been used for around 10,000 years, over 95% of all copper production and use in the world has occurred in the last 115 years or so. 50% of all copper ever extracted was extracted in just the last 24 years!
While there is an astounding amount of copper in the world, most of it is not viable for extraction, with the current technology and expenses. Hence, estimates suggest that current copper reserves will maybe last a few more decades only.
The price of copper has also fluctuated wildly, from costing less than a dollar per pound to around $4 per pound.
Copper is popularly used in wiring as it is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity while also being significantly resistant to corrosion. These reasons also make it an excellent choice to be used in motors, increasing the efficiency of motors.
Most of these countries already have huge deposits of copper in mines, not to mention the technology required for its extraction. To determine countries that produce the most copper in the world, we used the report prepared by the U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Geological Survey, which presented the countries as well as statistics pertaining to the production of copper.