Basic Introduction To Copper

Copper is a metallic element and also a transition element. Pure copper is a soft metal, the surface is red-orange with metallic luster when it is just cut, and the element is purple-red. It has good ductility, high thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity, so it is the most commonly used material in cables and electrical and electronic components. It can also be used as a building material and can be composed of many kinds of alloys. Copper alloys have excellent mechanical properties and low resistivity, the most important of which are bronze and brass. In addition, copper is also a durable metal that can be recycled many times without compromising its mechanical properties.


Copper Use

① Power Industry

Power transmission such as cables, transformers, switches, plug-in components and connectors, etc.; motor manufacturing such as stators, rotors, shaft heads and hollow wires; communication cables and residential electrical lines also require a large number of copper wires.

Power Industry

② Electronics Industry

Copper foil electric vacuum devices, such as high-frequency and ultra-high-frequency launch tubes, transition tubes, magnetrons, etc., require high-purity oxygen-free copper and dispersion-strengthened oxygen-free copper. Copper printed circuits require large quantities of copper foil and copper-based brazing materials. In integrated circuits, copper is used instead of aluminum in silicon chips for interconnects and lead frames.

Electronics Industry

③ Energy and Petrochemical Industry

The main condenser tube sheets and condenser tubes of thermal power plants in the energy industry are made of brass, bronze or cupronickel. Solar heaters are also often manufactured using copper pipes. Copper and many copper alloys in the petrochemical industry are widely used in the manufacture of various containers, piping systems, filters, pumps and valves, various evaporators, heat exchangers and condensers that come into contact with corrosive media. In the marine industry, copper and its alloys are very important materials in the marine industry because copper is not only resistant to seawater corrosion, but also the copper ions dissolved in the water have a bactericidal effect and can prevent marine biological fouling. Therefore, copper and its copper alloys have also been used in desalination plants, Widely used in offshore oil and gas production platforms and other coastal and subsea facilities, such as piping systems, pumps and valves used in seawater desalination processes, and equipment used on oil and gas production platforms, including splash zone and underwater bolts, anti-corrosion Biofouling jackets, pump valves and piping systems, etc.

Energy and Petrochemical Industry

④ Transportation Industry

Aluminum bronze copper alloys in the shipbuilding industry include aluminum bronze, manganese bronze, aluminum brass, gunmetal (tin-zinc bronze), cupronickel and nickel-copper alloy (Monel alloy), which are all standard materials for shipbuilding. In warships and merchant ships, copper and copper alloys are generally used as aluminum bronze propellers, bolts, condenser pipes, rivets, and copper-containing clad paints. In the automotive industry, copper and copper alloys are mainly used in radiators, brake system pipes, hydraulic devices, gears, bearings, power distribution and power systems, brake pads, gaskets, and various joints, accessories and trims. Motors, rectifiers and control, braking, electrical and signaling systems on railway trains also rely on copper and copper alloys to work. In addition, the electrification of railways places a high demand on copper and copper alloys. The wiring, hydraulic, cooling and pneumatic systems in the aircraft need to use copper materials, the bearing retainers and landing gear bearings are made of aluminum bronze pipes, and the navigation instruments are made of diamagnetic copper alloys.

Transportation Industry

⑤ Mechanical and Metallurgical Industry

In addition to the large amount of copper used in motors, circuits, hydraulic systems, pneumatic systems and control systems in mechanical engineering, various transmission parts and fixing parts, such as cylinder liners, connecting parts, fasteners, gears, twisting parts, etc., all need Wear reduction and lubrication with copper or copper alloys. The crystallizer, the key component in the continuous casting technology of metallurgical equipment, is mostly made of copper alloys with high strength and high thermal conductivity such as chromium copper and silver copper. , All kinds of induction heating induction coils are made of copper tube or special-shaped copper tube, and the water is cooled in the middle. Alloy Additives Copper is an important additive element in alloys such as steel and aluminum. A small amount of copper is added to low alloy structural steel to improve the strength and resistance to atmospheric and marine corrosion of the steel. The addition of copper to corrosion-resistant cast iron and stainless steel can further improve their corrosion resistance.

Mechanical and Metallurgical Industry

⑥ Applications In Light Industry

Copper and copper alloys can be used in the manufacture of heat exchangers for air conditioners, clock movements, meshes for paper machines, rollers, printed copper plates, fermenter linings, stills, architectural decorative components, etc.

Applications In Light Industry

⑦ Emerging Industries And High-Tech Fields

Copper is also used in emerging industries and high-tech fields, such as superconducting alloys, containers and pipes for ultra-low temperature media, cooling inner villages for rocket engines, and magnet windings for high-energy accelerators.

Emerging Industries And High-Tech Fields

Copper Ore

Copper ore is a mineral form in which copper is mainly in the form of compounds and a few in the form of elemental substances. There are more than 200 kinds of copper-bearing ores in nature. Common copper ores can be divided into three types: natural copper, sulfide ores and oxide ores.

Copper Mines

Natural Copper

Natural copper is a variety of flake, plate and block aggregates that are naturally generated by copper elements in nature. The unoxidized natural copper surface is red with metallic luster. However, due to oxidation, usually natural copper will be brown-black or green. Natural copper often also contains trace amounts of elements such as iron, silver and gold. Copper is an important metal with a wide variety of uses.

Natural Copper

Sulfide Ore

Sulfide ores mainly include chalcopyrite, bornite and chalcocite.


Chalcopyrite is a copper-iron sulfide mineral. Often contains trace amounts of gold and silver. Crystals are relatively rare and are tetrahedral, mostly in the form of irregular granular and dense massive aggregates, as well as kidney-shaped and grape-shaped aggregates. Copper yellow, often dark yellow or spotted. The streaks are greenish black. Chalcopyrite is a relatively common copper mineral, which can be formed in different environments, but it is mainly the product of hydrothermal action and contact metasomatism, and it can often form deposits of a certain scale. The origins are all over the world. In industry, it is the main raw material for copper smelting. In gemology, it is rarely used alone, and is occasionally used as a substitute for pyrite. In addition, it often participates in the composition of some colored stones, inkstones and jade.



Bornite is a sulfide mineral of copper and iron, with a copper content of 63.3% bornite, one of the main mineral raw materials for copper extraction. It is an equiaxed crystal system, and its high temperature variant is an equiaxed crystal system, called equiaxed bornite. The surface is easily oxidized and has a blue-purple spot-like color, hence the name. The fresh section is dark copper red, metallic luster, Mohs hardness 3, specific gravity 4.9-5.0. It is often found in various types of copper deposits in the form of dense massive or dispersed particles, and is often symbiotic with chalcopyrite. It is also formed in the secondary enrichment zone of copper deposits, but it is unstable and replaced by secondary chalcocite and copper blue. It is easily weathered into malachite and azurite on the surface. Brochantite


Most of the chalcocite is a secondary mineral formed by the oxidation and decomposition of primary sulfide and then reduction. High in copper content, it is the most important smelting copper ore. There are a large amount of chalcocite in Dongchuan Copper Mine in Yunnan, my country.


③ Oxide Ore

Oxide ore can be mainly divided into azurite, cuprite and malachite.


Azurite is a copper-bearing carbonate mineral. It belongs to the monoclinic system and is very rare, usually in the form of cryptocrystalline stalactites, massive, cortical, nodular and fibrous aggregates. Concentric lamellar, fibrous radial structure. There are green, malachite green, dark green and so on. Often with stripes, silky or vitreous luster, seemingly transparent to opaque. The refractive index is 1.730-1.836, the birefringence is 0.106, and the pleochroism is colorless-yellow-green-dark green. Brittle, shell-like to jagged fracture. It reacts with hydrochloric acid and dissolves easily.



Cuprite is a red oxide mineral that is soft but heavy. Generally, it is gradually formed by the weathering of copper sulfide, and the minerals formed in this way are called secondary minerals. Copper ore contains more than 88.8% copper and is an important copper ore mineral. But due to its small distribution, it is only a minor copper ore in terms of utilization. Cuprite is beautiful in bright crystals, with a bright red color that resembles diamonds. But if they are exposed to the air for a little longer, they will become dull and dark red. Some cuprites are granular or earthy. Some cuprites become loosely intertwined with hairs when forming crystals, which is called gross cuprite, which is a rare variant of cuprite.



When malachite is produced in large quantities, copper can be smelted, and the pure and beautiful malachite can be used as decorations and works of art, and the powder can be used as green pigment. Malachite can be used as a prospecting symbol for copper mines. Malachite is produced in the oxidation zone of copper deposits and is often symbiotic or associated with azurite. 


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