July 17, 2012 Leave a reply

Copper: The Essential Metal (Part I)

Click here to view Part 2 on supply and demand.

Copper: The Essential Metal

Copper: The Essential Metal

Copper is one of the most widely used metals on the planet, and has been for more than 10,000 years. It’s history is rich and distinctive as its unique colour, and it is now indispensable in modern society.

What Makes Copper Different?

  • Pure copper is ductile – it can be easily stretched and shaped into different forms
  • Highly conductive – copper conducts heat and electricity more effectively than all other metals save one: silver.
  • 100% Recyclable – 80% of copper ever mined is still in use today.
  • Highly Alloyable – there are currently more than 570 different known copper alloys, and 350 have been acknowledged as antimicrobial.
  • Colour: Copper unique reddish-orange hue is beautiful and easily identifiable. In fact, gold and osmium are the only other elemental metals with colours other than silver/grey.

The average single family home in North America uses:

  • 195 pounds -  building wire
  • 151 pounds -  plumbing tube, fittings, valves
  • 24 pounds -  plumbers’ brass goods
  • 47 pounds -  built-in appliances
  • 12 pounds -  builders hardware
  • 10 pounds -  other wire and tube

Not only that, there are virtually zero substitutes for copper in its applications. Only silver is a beter conductor, and is over 100x times more expensive.

Copper today is now the nervous system of our cities, homes, tools and toys. The simple truth is that the western lifestyle is completely dependent on copper.

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