What is copper?
Copper is a chemical element. It is soft, easily malleable and tough. It is easily identifiable due to its striking reddish colour. If it comes into contact with carbon dioxide, a layer of carbonate forms, also known as a patina. After silver, copper offers the second highest level of electrical conductivity of any material, even better than gold. As a weakly reactive heavy metal, copper is classed as a semi-precious metal. It is used in many different alloys, such as brass, bronze or nickel silver. Copper is found in the Earth’s crust. Just like the precious metals gold, silver and platinum, it often appears in a pure, elemental form.
Where is copper used?
Due to its excellent conductivity of heat and electricity, copper is commonly found in building wiring. It is versatile and particularly durable. The field of electrical engineering also benefits from the outstanding properties of this metal. Copper is used in its pure form or as an alloy.
As a result of global industrialisation, natural copper resources are becoming increasingly scarce and prices are increasing.
Pure copper scrap is recovered by melting it in an induction furnace. Scrap with a low copper content has to go through a concentrate smelting process. A distinction is made between different grades of copper:
No. 2 grade copper:
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