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Copper Mining and Processing: Everything you Need to Know

Copper Element The advancements made in mining equipment, such as those achieved at General Kinematics, along with mining technology progress have resulted in growth and production in the copper mining industry.

From primitive, cumbersome mining methods to compact, efficient modern-day equipment, copper mining has become a cost-effective, efficient process.

Additionally, today’s mining equipment makes it possible to reduce waste and decrease chemical exposure during all phases of the copper mining process.

The Basics of Copper Mining and Processing

Mined from open pits, copper ore must be crushed as part of the process that occurs between extraction and production. Using today’s compact mining equipment, copper ore is extracted from the mine.

After the ore is crushed, it’s roasted, which helps to convert sulfides to oxides. The oxides are smelted to produce matte, which then undergoes several refining processes.

What is Copper Used For?

  • Water Pipes
  • Wiring
  • Coins
  • Electronics
  • Cookware
  • Jewelry
  • Ornaments
  • Roofing
  • Lightning Rods
  • Shipbuilding
  • Vehicle Construction
  • Doorknobs and Other Household Fixtures

Copper Where is Copper Found?

In 2013, nearly 18 million tons of copper was produced throughout the world. With production just under 6 million tons, Chile is the world’s largest producer, with the United States following close behind.

Several countries in Asia, South America, Africa and Europe are also involved in the production of copper.

The largest copper mine in the United States is located in Bingham Canyon, Utah.

The Copper Mining Process

Once it’s located within the earth, copper ore goes through eight stages before the consumer sees it in various products that affect every day life in the home and business. These eight stages include:

  • Mining
  • Grinding
  • Concentrating
  • Roasting
  • Smelting
  • Conversion
  • Anode Casting
  • Electro-Refining

Documentation of the use of copper dates back to ancient times. The laborious task of mining copper ore by hand made it difficult to obtain large quantities for production.

During the Industrial Revolution, coal- and steam-powered machinery paved the way for a huge increase in copper production with mines smelting between 200 and 300 tons of copper ore per week.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the annual worldwide copper demand was at half a million tons. By World War II, this demand had multiplied by more than nine times. Continued advancements in technology have allowed the copper mining industry to keep up with worldwide demands with mining methods that are efficient and cost-effective.

Learn more about copper and the copper process.

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