Copper Production and Usage

Today, copper is mined on every continent except Antarctica. The world's major sources of copper are in the countries of Chile, the United States, Peru, China, Russia, Poland, and Zambia. These mines are often mixed metal-sulfide ores, from which several metals can be extracted simultaneously. Copper is separated from ore by two principal methods, pyrometallurgically (smelting; roasting the ore to drive off the oxides/and or sulfur) or hydrometallurgically (treating the ore with chemicals to leach the copper out of it).

World production of copper in 2003 was approximately 13.6 million metric tons and was projected to grow to 18 million by the end of 2006. Copper's value as an electrical conductor in wire and cables accounts for approximately 75% of its usage, with structural and building uses of copper and it alloys (tubes, sheets, and rods) accounting for the majority (22%) of the remainder. All other uses (chemicals, pesticides, etc) constitute a mere 3%.

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