(Latin cuprum , from the island of Cyprus) It is believed that copper has been mined for 5,000 years.
Copper is reddish and takes on a bright metallic luster. It is malleable, ductile, and a good conductor of heat and electricity (second only to silver in electrical conductivity).
Copper occasionally occurs native, and is found in many minerals such as cuprite, malachite, azurite, chalcopyrite, and bornite.
Large copper ore deposits are found in the U.S., Chile, Zambia, Zaire, Peru, and Canada. The most important copper ores are the sulfides, the oxides, and carbonates. From these, copper is obtained by smelting, leaching, and by electrolysis.
The electrical industry is one of the greatest users of copper. Iron's alloys -- brass and bronze -- are very important: all American coins are copper alloys and gun metals also contain copper.
Copper has wide use as an agricultural poison and as an algicide in water purification. Copper compounds, such as Fehling's solution, are widely used in analytical chemistry tests for sugar.
High-purity copper (99.999+ percent) is available commercially.
Sources: CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics and the American Chemical Society.
Last Updated: 12/19/97