Quick Facts

Copper has played a key role in driving economic growth in Southern Africa.  Copper ensures the efficient generation, distribution and usage of electricity in our homes and in our industries; and the delivery of safe, clean drinking water to our citizens. Below are some more quick facts about copper:

Copper is a natural element.  It is a metal Copper has excellent corrosion resistance Copper conducts electricity reliably and efficiently
South Africa is a copper-producing country Copper is represented by the chemical symbol Cu People have been using copper since 9000 BC
Copper can be combined with other metals to make new alloys, like brass and bronze Most copper in use, such as wiring & plumbing, will remain in use for over half a century Copper is biostatic, i.e. it does not sustain bacterial growth
Copper is represented by the atomic number 29 Copper is virtually 100% recyclable South Africa has about 2,1% of the world’s copper reserves
South Africa has copper mines, smelters and refineries Copper compounds are used as algaecides and pesticides Copper keeps drinking water safe and pure
When tin is alloyed with copper, bronze is made Copper handles extremes of heat with no problems or long-term degradation Copper is strong, ductile and easily joined by soldering or brazing
Copper is an essential nutrient enabling the body to metabolize energy and function properly Average home has ± 180kg of copper for electrical wiring, water pipes and appliances Copper is a better conductor of heat and electricity than any other metal, except silver
Copper is the only naturally occurring metal other than gold that has a distinctive colour Palabora Copper Mine is South Africa’s deepest and largest open cast mine The word copper comes from the Latin word cuprum which means ore of Cyprus
The Statue of Liberty contains 179,000 lbs of copper Plants and animal health rely on adequate copper intake When zinc is alloyed with copper, brass is made

World mine production



2006 Copper production

World 15,100,000 tonnes
1 Chile Chile 5,360,800 tonnes
2 United States United States 1,220,000 tonnes
3 Peru Peru 1,049,933 tonnes
4 China China 915,000 tonnes
5 Australia Australia 875,000 tonnes
6 Indonesia Indonesia 817,796 tonnes
7 Russia Russia 675,000 tonnes
8 Zambia Zambia 502,998 tonnes
9 Canada Canada 606,958 tonnes
10 Poland Poland 497,200 tonnes
11 Kazakhstan Kazakhstan 459,200 tonnes
12 Iran Iran 249,100 tonnes
13 Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea 194,355 tonnes
14 Argentina Argentina 180,144 tonnes
15 Brazil Brazil 147,836 tonnes
16 Democratic Republic of the Congo DR Congo 131,400 tonnes
17 Mongolia Mongolia 129,675 tonnes
18 Mexico Mexico 129,042 tonnes
19 Uzbekistan Uzbekistan 103,500 tonnes
20 Bulgaria Bulgaria 99,000 tonnes
21 South Africa South Africa 89,700 tonnes


Our thanks to the following organisations and websites from which this information was sourced.

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