Dell Rabinowitz, CMO Urban E Recycling

November 28, 2016

Copper prices on the rise. Copper prices have been down for a while, so what is the sudden interest in this semi-precious metal? I had to know. My partner, Greg, it the one who keeps his finger on the pulse of elements and prices. That’s his job, among other things; and he is good at it. But I am the curious one. I want to know why. Of course, I went to Google to find out. I found out more than I bargained for. I thought I would share.

Let’s start out with some copper trivia. Did you know when the U.S.A. stopped making pennies completely with copper? You have to read the rest of my article to get the answer (or skip down to the bottom).

Copper has an interesting history. Copper was one of the first metals to be used by humans. In 8000 B.C. coins and ornaments were produced from copper. In 3000 B.C., people discovered that tin and copper made an alloy we now call bronze. The hard metal was good for tools and advanced versatility of everyday life.

Copper has a quality of resisting corrosion It is easily shaped, stretched and molded. Copper is an excellent conductor of electricity and heat; qualities that make it a favorable for construction, and technology. Copper is an essential component in the radiators, connectors, wiring, motors, brakes, and bearings used in motor vehicles. In fact, the average car contains 45 – 100 pounds of copper.

One of the most surprising uses of copper, I found, was the use of adding the element to things like brass doorknobs. Copper is combined to metals for the antimicrobial properties that reduce the transfer of germs. Who knew? I didn’t.

Alloys include brass when combined with zinc; bronze when combined with tin. One of the most valuable qualities is its non-corrosive properties. Copper-nickel is applied to ships because of the constant contact with seawater. Brass has noted for its acoustic properties, thus, it is used in a variety of musical instruments including bells, cymbals, trumpets, and trombones.

Most of the U.S. copper is mined from Arizona. The largest volume of copper, worldwide, comes from the Andes Mountains. Only one-third of copper is recycled. The sad thing is that this one-third is the highest percentage of all metals recycled per element. 

 

I held you in suspense long enough. The answer to the trivia question is:

Pennies in the United States were made of pure copper from 1793 to 1837, and then contained varying amounts of copper throughout the years before converting to a majority 97.5 percent zinc in 1982. At that point, the penny continued to be made with a small 2.5 percent copper. (from www.reference.com)

Game for another? What is the largest use of copper in a single structure? I’ll let you guess.