Copper is a malleable and ductile metallic element that is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity as well as being corrosion resistant and antimicrobial. Copper occurs naturally in the Earth’s crust in a variety of forms. It can be found in sulphide deposits (as chalcopyrite, bornite, chalcocite, covellite), in carbonate deposits (as azurite and malachite), in silicate deposits (as chrysycolla and dioptase) and as pure “native” copper. Copper also occurs naturally in humans, animals and plants. Organic life forms have evolved in an environment containing copper. As a nutrient and essential element, copper is vital to maintaining health. Life sustaining functions depend on copper.

Copper and copper-based alloys are used in a variety of applications that are necessary for a reasonable standard of living. Its continued production and use is essential for society’s development. How society exploits and uses its resources, while ensuring that tomorrow’s needs are not compromised, is an important factor in ensuring society’s sustainable development.

Copper is one of the most recycled of all metals. It is our ability to recycle metals over and over again that makes them a material of choice. Recycled copper (also known as secondary copper) cannot be distinguished from primary copper (copper originating from ores), once reprocessed. Recycling copper extends the efficiency of use of the metal, results in energy savings and contributes to ensuring that we have a sustainable source of metal for future generations.

The demand for copper will continue to be met by the discovery of new deposits, technological improvements, efficient design, and by taking advantage of the renewable nature of copper through reuse and recycling. As well, competition between materials, and supply and demand principles, contribute to ensuring that materials are used efficiently and effectively.

Copper is an important contributor to the national economies of mature, newly developed and developing countries. Mining, processing, recycling and the transformation of metal into a multitude of products creates jobs and generates wealth. These activities contribute to building and maintaining a country’s infrastructure, and create trade and investment opportunities. Copper will continue to contribute to society’s development well into the future.

Looking for background information on copper?  Wondering why copper is a material of choice?  Interested in long term availability of copper, sustainable development, trade, health or the environment?

The World Copper Factbook reveals a wealth of facts and figures on copper and shows the importance of copper in contributing to the development of our modern society.

Sustainable Development

Copper and copper-based alloys are used in a variety of applications that are necessary for a reasonable standard of living. Its continued production and use is essential for society’s development. How society exploits and uses its resources, while ensuring that tomorrow’s needs are not compromised, is an important factor in ensuring society’s sustainable development.

The demand for copper will continue to be met by the discovery of new deposits, technological improvements, efficient design, and by taking advantage of the renewable nature of copper through reuse and recycling. As well, competition between materials, and supply and demand principles, contribute to ensuring that materials are used efficiently and effectively.

Copper is an important contributor to the national economies of mature, newly developed and developing countries. Mining, processing, recycling and the transformation of metal into a multitude of products creates jobs and generates wealth. These activities contribute to building and maintaining a country’s infrastructure, and create trade and investment opportunities. This is particularly important for lesser-developed countries seeking to improve their living standards.

Copper will continue to contribute to society’s development well into the future.

SD Initiatives and Activities

  • Interested in sustainable development and non-ferrous metals?
  • Wondering who’s doing what on SD?
  • The International Copper Study Group, International Lead Zinc Study Group and International Nickel Study Group have cooperated to work with other stakeholders in addressing issues related to sustainable development and; non-ferrous metals. Visit the site dedicated to sustainable development: www.nfmsd.org

• Product and trade definitions used by the International Copper Study Group can be found here.

Industry Associations and Organizations: International Wrought Copper Council (IWCC), Copper AllianceCopper Development Association (CDA), EurometauxEuropean Copper Institute (ECI) 

Other International Organizations:  International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM), Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), United Nations Conference on Trade And Development (UNCTAD), International Seabed Authority (www.isa.org.jm)

Sister Organizations: International Lead Zinc Study Group (ILZSG) and International Nickel Study Group (ICSG).

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