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Appearance, Uses and History
Copper is primarily used in industry, rather than as mineral specimens.
Native copper was once one of the most important sources of copper metal as it was difficult to smelt from copper ores.
Copper is now one of the most widely used metals on earth, used for everything from coinage, to ornaments, wires and electronic devices, pigments and alloys with other metals.
Copper has been used since antiquity, by neolithic humans. This was alloyed with Tin and led to the Bronze Age.
In Roman times, most copper came from Cyprus. It was known as “aes Cyprium”; which meant ‘metal of Cyprus’. This later became cyprium, than cuprum – this is why the chemical symbol for Copper is Cu.
The primary use for copper is as a conductor, as it has an excellent level of thermal and electrical conductivity, making it ideal for use in wires and connectors of many kinds.
Copper is also used in solar cells, paints and pigments, lubricants, disinfectants, additives, mordants, batteries, fungicides, and is sometimes used for base metal jewellery and ornamentation, although this is more commonly the copper-alloys brass or bronze.
Pure native Copper is not found often, and most of the specimens on the market come from the Keweenaw peninsula in Michigan, USA. There are other nice specimens from Arizona – especially Bisbee. Other famous locales include Tsumeb, Namibia – La Paz, Bolivia, and Cornwall, England.
Copper ores and minerals, however, are very common around the world.
Most of the worlds Copper is mined in a few countries – Australia, Chile, China, Mexico, Russia, the USA and Zambia are major producers of above 4% of the worlds supply each – mostly as copper ores, not native/elemental copper.
Photos of native Copper
Hazards and Warnings
Copper is a toxic metal, but toxicity should not be a huge concern for mineral collectors as toxicity is primarily caused by inhalation or ingestion, primarily via contamination or incorrectly lined cookware.
Almost all rocks, minerals (and, frankly, almost all other substances on earth) can produce toxic dust when cutting, which can cause serious respiratory conditions including silicosis.
When cutting or polishing rocks, minerals, shells, etc, all work should be done wet to minimise the dust, and a suitable respirator or extraction system should be used.
Mandarin and Traditional Chinese:
Further Reading / External Links