History of copper

Copper with the symbol Cu is a chemical element that has atomic number 29 in the periodic table.

There are only a few metals that occur in nature and copper is one among them. This is the reason that led early humans to use copper in many regions, since 8000 BC.

In the year 5000 BC, copper was the first metal smelted from sulfide ores. In the year 4000 BC, copper was the first metal to be alloyed with other metals to create bronze.

More than 10,000 years copper has been in use, but 95% of the copper mined and smelted has been done only since 1900, and half of which was done the last 24 years.

Comparing to the other natural resources the total amount of copper on the Earth is huge with around 1014 tons and 5 million years of worth comparing to the present level of extraction.

In the present prices and technologies, only a small amount of these reserves is economically feasible. Depending on the growth rate assumptions, the copper reserves are available for mining from 25 to 60 years.

Copper has a vital role in currency, from the 3rd century to 6th century Romans used copper lumps as money. In the initial stages, the copper itself was valued but later the shape and the look of copper also became important.

Julius Caesar owned coins made from brass, while Octavianus Augustus Caesar’s coins were made of Cu-Pb-Sn alloys. Roman copper mining reached a high level of scale around 15,000 tons which was unsurpassed until the era of the Industrial Revolution.

In India, holistic medical science like Ayurveda and other medical equipment used copper.

Approximately around 2400 BC copper is used for sterilizing wounds and to drink water. Copper was also used to treat headaches, itching, and burns.

The outer cladding of the low-denomination coins is produced using the cupronickel which is an alloy of copper and nickel. 5 cent coin of the US consists of 75% of copper and 25% of nickel.

An alloy of copper and silver was also used before the use of cupronickel which came into practice during the 20th century. Until 1965 the alloy of 90% silver and 10% was used in the United States but later it was using 40% of silver and 60% of copper between the years 1965 and 1970.

The alloy of 10% of nickel and 90% of copper is well known for its remarkable resistance to corrosion. Alloys of copper along with aluminum gives you a golden color which is highly used for the decoration purpose.

During the 18th century, a technique pioneered by the British Admiralty to use Copper plating and copper sheathing to protect the under-water hulls of ships, In the year 1876, the first modern electroplating plant got starting in Hamburg. Gottfried Osann a German scientist found that the amount and type of alloying element with the copper would affect the bell tones which led to the invention of powder metallurgy.

Copper is a natural metal and was used in the oldest civilization as per the record. A pendant made of copper was found during 8700 BC in Northern Iraq.

Mostly copper is used as a pure metal but when you want to make it harder it is alloyed with Brass and Bronze. Copper is used mostly in electrical wire, plumbing, roofing, and industrial machinery. More than a century, copper paints is been used on a boat to control the growth of plants and shellfish.

A tiny amount of copper is used as a nutritional supplement and fungicides in agriculture.

Smelting of copper was independently invented by different regions. China might have probably discovered it before 2800 BC, during 600 AD Central America and in 9th or 10th century West Africa.

Southeast Asia investment casting was invented between 4500-4000 BC. The UK, around 2280 to 1890 BC. All the experience gained with the copper lead to the other metal development such as iron smelting. Between 6000 and 3000 BC, the production in the Michigan and Wisconsin was done in the old copper complex.

After the discovery of copper smelting, the alloy of copper along with tin was made used to make bronze which came into practice about 4000 years ago.

In the year 4500 BC the bronze artifact was started. 3700–3300 BC in Southeastern Europe began the Bronze Age and in Northwestern Europe it was about 2500 BC.

The transition from the Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age is called a Chalcolithic period. The age of Chalcolithic and Neolithic is thought to be coterminous that leads to the gradual fall of these two terms.

Copper is alloyed with Zinc to form Brass which was a recent discovery, During which became a vital supplement to bronze only during the Roman Empire.

In the year 3rd or 2nd century copper was first used in Ancient Britain and copper mining was started with minimal workers by the Native Americans. In the year 800 - 1600 Isle Royale is known to have native copper been extracted. In South America, copper metallurgy became a practice, particularly in 1000 AD in Peru. The commercial production of copper started only from the 20th century.

Copper sites include Chuguicamata, in Chile, United States, Bingham Canyon Mine, in Utah and El Chino Mine, in New Mexico, etc. As per the British Geological Survey, in 2005, Chile was the largest producer of copper producing one-third of the world copper followed by other countries like the United States, Peru, and Indonesia.

There was a mine named “Great Copper Mountain” in Falun, Sweden which was operated from the 10th century to 1992. This helped in the 17th century to fund many of Sweden’s wars as Europe’s copper consumption increased. This was referred to as the Nation’s treasury and Sweden had a copper backed currency.

Copper is used in photographic technology, currency, and roofing. Copper is used in various construction, it was used in Renaissance sculpture and the Statue of Liberty is constructed with Copper.

The copper price has always been unstable and the price is getting increased for the past few years. In the time June 1999 it was US$0.60/lb (US$1.32/kg), during May 2006 it was $3.75 per pound ($8.27/kg), in the year 2007 it decreased to $2.40/lb ($5.29/kg) and then it got increased in the same year to $3.50/lb ($7.71/kg). In the year 2009, a steep fall in the commodity price and weakening in the global demand left the copper price $1.51/lb ($3.32/kg).

The Intergovernmental Council of Copper Exporting Countries was formed in 1967 but later it got dissolved in 1988. This was formed by Zaire, Peru, Chile, and Zambia but it never achieved the same kind of influence done by the second-largest producer, the United States, who was never a member.

Mostly copper is used as a pure metal but when you want to make it harder it is alloyed with Brass and Bronze.

Copper is used mostly in electrical wire, plumbing, roofing, and industrial machinery. More than a century, copper paints is been used on a boat to control the growth of plants and shellfish. A tiny amount of copper is used as a nutritional supplement and fungicides in agriculture.

For a short period from the 1960s to the late 1970s, copper wiring was replaced by aluminum wiring. Aluminum wiring was used in the housing construction in America. This method was used to build a number of houses but later the industry returned back to copper.

electrical motors efficiency are enhanced using the Copper's conductivity capability. This is important because 43%-46% of motors and motor-driven systems and 69% of the electricity system uses copper. A new technology designed for motor ‘copper motor rotors’ helped in energy-saving and enabled the design which led to the induction motors which met and exceed the NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) standards.