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Where Does Copper Come From?

Blog Where Does Copper Come From?

Copper is found in many parts of the world. It usually comes from copper ore, but small amounts are occasionally found (“native copper”) in distorted cubic crystal chunks. Keweenaw Peninsula near Lake Superior in Michigan is one of the most likely places to find native copper!!

What is native copper?

Copper is an unreactive metal – it reacts only slowly with the atmosphere. This means that huge lumps of copper metal are found buried in the ground as nuggets. This is called native copper. The largest nugget of native copper ever found came from Minnesota, USA and weighed over 400 tonnes. Native copper isn’t mined because there is so little of it. Therefore it is of little commercial importance.

What is an ore?

An ore is a rock that has enough metal in it to make it worth extracting the metal.
The main ores of copper are:

  • Chalcopyrite
  • Bornite
  • Malachite

Over 50% of the World’s copper comes from chalcopyrite and bornite.

Ore is first mined, then put through a series of processes to refine and purify the copper. The USA is the second largest producer of copper in the world. The largest copper mine is found in Utah (Bingham Canyon). Other major mines are found in Arizona, Michigan, New Mexico and Montana. In South America, Chile, the world’s largest producer, and Peru are both major producers of copper. Large copper deposits are also found in Canada, the Ural Mountains of Russia, and parts of Africa.

Read more on the copper production process by visiting the following link provided by the Copper Development Association.