You are on page 1of 28




- is a chemical element with
the symbol Cu (from Latin:
- Atomic number 29.
- It is a ductile metal with
very high thermal and
electrical conductivity.
-It is used as a conductor of
heat and electricity,
a building material,
and a constituent of various metal alloys.
- The metal and its alloys have been used for thousands of years. In the Roman era, copper
was principally mined on Cyprus, hence the origin of the name of the metal as yprium (metal
of Cyprus), later shortened to cuprum. Its compounds are commonly encountered as copper
(II) salts, which often impart blue or green colors to minerals such as azurite and turquoise and
have been widely used historically as pigments.
Physical properties
Phase solid
Density(near r.t.) 8.96 gcm

Liquid density atm.p. 8.02 gcm

Melting point 1357.77 K1984.32 F 1084.62 C, ,
Boiling point 4643 F 2562 C, 2835 K,
Heat of fusion 13.26 kJmol

Heat of vaporization 300.4 kJmol

Molar heat capacity 24.440 Jmol

History and Uses:
Archaeological evidence suggests that people have been using copper for at least 11,000
years. Relatively easy to mine and refine, people discovered methods for extracting copper
from its ores at least 7,000 years ago. The Roman Empire obtained most of its copper from the
island of Cyprus, which is where copper's name originated. Today, copper is primarily obtained
from the ores cuprite (CuO
), tenorite (CuO), malachite (CuO
), chalcocite (Cu
covellite (CuS) and bornite (Cu
). Large deposits of copper ore are located in the United
States, Chile, Zambia, Zaire, Peru and Canada.
Used in large amounts by the electrical industry in the form of wire, copper is second only
to silver in electrical conductance. Since it resists corrosion from the air, moisture and
seawater, copper has been widely used in coins. Although once made nearly entirely from
copper, American pennies are now made from zinc that has been coated with copper. Copper
is also used to make water pipes and jewelry, as well as and other items.
Pure copper is usually too soft for most uses. People first learned about 5,000 years ago that
copper can be strengthened if it is mixed with other metals. The two most familiar alloys of
copper are bronze and brass. Bronze, the first alloy created by people, is a mix of copper that
contains as much as 25% tin. Early people used bronze to make tools, weaponry, containers
and ornamental items. Brass, a mix of copper that contains between 5% and 45% zinc, was
first used about 2,500 years ago. The Romans were the first to make extensive use of brass,
using it to make such things as coins, kettles and ornamental objects. Today, brass is also
used in some musical instruments, screws and other hardware that must resist corrosion.
Hydrated copper sulfate (CuSO
O), also known as blue vitrol, is the best known copper
compound. It is used as an agricultural poison, as an algicide in water purification and as a
blue pigment for inks. Cuperic chloride (CuCl
), another copper compound, is used to fix dyes
to fabrics. Cuprous chloride (CuCl) is a poisonous white powder that is chiefly used to absorb
carbon dioxide (CO
). Copper cyanide (CuCN) is commonly used in electroplating.
*New Device Could Charge Your Smartphone As You
- Power cords and batteries are the bane of every gadget:
You either carry around the necessary cords and cables, or
you hope the battery lasts. But now, researchers want to
change that, by building a charger powered by the motion
of your body as you walk.
The device built by Georgia Tech researchers, led by
Zhong Lin Wang consists of four discs layered on top
of one another. The first disc is made of copper, and rotates. The next is a polymer and
remains stationary, and the third is a gold layer that is divided into sectors, with alternating
sections cut out, to make something that looks like a bicycle wheel. The last layer is made of
When the copper disc rotates, positive charges in the copper move past the negative charges
in the polymer. That causes an imbalance of charges in the gold layer, with each "spoke" of
gold having either more positive or more negative charges. This imbalance means that when a
wire is connected between sectors, current flows.
Wang said the device can generate power as long as something causes the copper disc to
rotate. For example, he demonstrated that flowing water could work, in the lab.
He has also experimented with wearable versions. "This is even more general," he told Live
Science. "You could attach it to your leg, or in the folds of a jacket."
The device works on the same principle as static electricity. For example, when you walk on a
rug in wool socks, electrons build up in the socks (and in you), and when you touch a metal
doorknob, they jump from your finger, making a spark. There's a lot of voltage in the spark
enough to make the jump through the air but not much current, which is why the shock
doesn't kill you.
"The phenomenon has been known for 1,000 years," Wang said. "But it's rarely been utilized
for power."
Wang said that his device is more efficient than a traditional generator, at least for its size. A
generator works by moving either a wire through a magnetic field or a magnetic field over a
stationary wire. Either one requires a certain number of turns of wire to make a certain voltage,
plus a strong magnet. Those components take up space, which is why generators tend to be
rather bulky even a small one that could power a phone would be the size of a brick, and it
would need a power source to boot.
But the device the researchers created can be made thin and flat; the one Wang demonstrated
is about 4 inches (10 centimeters) across, and swinging it in the hand generated enough
electricity to power a small array of lights, or about 5 volts, which is enough to charge an
Wang said the device is 50 times more efficient than a traditional generator of the same size.
*Why Does Copper Turn Green?
For the same reason that iron rusts.
Just as iron that is left unprotected in open
air will corrode and form a flaky orange-red
outer layer, copper that is exposed to the elements
undergoes a series of chemical reactions that give
the shiny metal a pale green outer layer called a
The patina actually protects the copper below the surface from further corrosion, making it a
good water-proofing material for roofs (which is why the roofs of so many old buildings are
bright green).

*Why Spiders Dont Do the Twist
A new study reveals that dragline silk, the stuff spiders use to rappel,
has a molecular structure that makes it resilient to twisting.
Researchers attached a small object that weighed about the same as
an Araneau diadematus spider to three types of thread and gave it a
spin. They twisted the weight though several 90-degree rotations and
recorded how long it took for the thread material to return to its
original position.
First up, Kevlar thread. Although this stuff is used in bullet-proof vests, it doesn't make for very
good spider silk because it does little to dampen the effects of twisting.
Next, researchers tested soft metallic copper thread. Copper dampened the twisting the best
as the rod barely oscillated. But the copper became brittle after just a few twist cycles.
The winner: spider silk.
Silk drawn from an A. diadematus spider did not dampen twisting as well as copper, but it
proved highly resilient. Examination at the microscopic scale revealed that dragline silk's
molecular configuration gives it shape "memory," which means it totally recovers its initial form
and reduces twisting.
This is good news for spiders, since twisting can lead to swinging, not good when you're trying
to sneak up on prey or avoid predators.
"A spider should not swing since a (descending) spider is potentially attractive for predators,"
study coauthor Olivier Emile of the Universite de Rennes in France told LiveScience.
*What's a Penny Made Of?
A penny is not what you think. Indeed, from 1783 to 1837,
a cent was pure copper. But newer pennies are made
mostly of zinc.
Here's the history, according to the U.S. Mint: From 1837
to 1857, the cent was made of bronze (95 percent copper,
and five percent tin and zinc).
From 1857, the cent was 88 percent copper and 12 percent nickel, giving the coin a whitish
The cent was again bronze (95 percent copper, and five percent tin and zinc) from 1864 to
1962, except: In 1943, the coin's composition was changed to zinc-coated steel. This change
was only for the year 1943 and was due to the critical use of copper for the war effort.
However, a limited number of copper pennies were minted that year.
In 1962, the cent's tin content, which was quite small, was removed. That made the metal
composition of the cent 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc.
The alloy remained 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc until 1982, when the composition
was changed to 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper (copper-plated zinc). Cents of both
compositions appeared in that year.The penny's original design was suggested by Ben
Franklin. The word "penny" comes from the British "pence." More than 300 billion pennies have
been minted, according to See, you shoulda saved them!
Here's a neat fact. The faces on all coins currently in circulation face left, except for Abe
Lincoln on the penny. Lincoln's likeness is an adaptation of a plaque done by sculptor Victor
David Brenner. The direction that Lincoln faces on the cent was not mandated but was simply
the choice of the designer.

*Earth's Limited Supply of Metals Raises Concern
If all nations were to use the same services enjoyed in developed nations, even the full
extraction of metals from the Earth's crust and extensive recycling may not be enough to meet
metal demands in the future, according to a new study.
To investigate the environmental and social consequences of metal depletion, researchers
looked at metal stocks thought to exist in the Earth, metal in use by people today, and how
much is lost in landfills.
Using copper stocks in North America as a starting point, the researchers tracked the evolution
of copper mining, use and loss during the 20th century. They then combined this information
with other data to estimate what the global demand for copper and other metals would be if all
nations were fully developed and using modern technologies.
According to the study, all of the copper in ore, plus all of the copper currently in use, would be
required to bring the world to the level of the developed nations for power transmission,
construction and other services and products that depend on the metal.
The study, led by Thomas Graedel of Yale University, was detailed in the Jan. 17 issue of the
journal for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
For the entire globe, the researchers estimate that 26 percent of extractable copper in the
Earth's crust is now lost in non-recycled wastes. For zinc, that number is 19 percent.
These metals are not at risk of immediate depletion, however, because supplies are still large
enough to meet demands and mines have become more efficient at extracting these ores.
But scarce metals, such as platinum, face depletion risks this century because of the lack of
suitable substitutes in such devices as catalytic converters and hydrogen fuel cells.
The researchers also found that for many metals, the average rate of usage per person
continues to rise. As a result, the report says, even the more plentiful metals may face similar
depletion risks in the future.

*Can Copper Reduce E. Coli Outbreaks?
While the source of the deadly E. coli outbreak in
Germany remains uncertain, the use of surfaces
made of copper to handle food could reduce the
risk of such outbreaks in the future, researchers say.
Furnishing workstations in meat processing
factories with copper surfaces rather than stainless
steel ones could reduce bacteria on these surfaces,
researchers say.
A copper surface can rapidly kill bacteria and viruses upon contact. While copper surfaces
can't completely stem outbreaks such as the current one, they could be an extra weapon
against food-borne illness.
"There is no substitute for good hygiene," and hand washing and surface cleaning will still be
necessary, said Bill Keevil, a microbiologist at the University of Southampton in the United
"What we're saying is, adding a copper alloy surface is an extra defense barrieran extra
arrow in the quiver to control these pathogens," said Keevil , whose work is funded by the
copper industry.
In a 2006 study, Keevil and his colleagues placed 10 million cells of E. coli O157, an infamous
food-borne bacteria strain, on a copper surface. All the bacteria died in about an hour. More
recently, the researchers found a copper surface can kill other strains of E. coli bacteria in
about 10 minutes.
While the researchers did not test the strain of E. coli responsible for the Germany outbreak,
Keevil predicted that copper would kill that strain as well.
Copper kills germs
Copper is a proven antimicrobial material. In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency said
copper alloy products containing more than 60 percent copper could claim to be antimicrobial.
Copper is already being used in hospitals on door handles, bed rails and light switches to
combat the spread of infections. Recent studies have shown installing copper surfaces in
hospital wards leads to a 90 percent reduction in the number of microorganisms on surfaces,
Keevil said.
Is it toxic?
The metal kills bacteria in part by releasing ions that destroy DNA and punch holes in the
bacteria cell membrane, Keevil said.
But while it's toxic to microorganisms, it poses little health threat to people, Keevil said. Copper
is an essential nutrient for people, and if we take in too much, the body has mechanisms of
getting rid of it, he said.
You should still avoid taking in too much of any metal, said Christopher Rensing, an associate
professor in the department of soil, water, and environmental science at the University of
Arizona. But while people who work with copper might want to be careful about over-exposure,
as a surface material, it's unlikely to be toxic to humans, Rensing said.
Studies have also shown raw meat takes up very little copper, Keevil said.
Other researchers are looking to combat contamination by dipping food directly into solutions
containing copper. Salam Ibrahim, a research professor of food sciences at North Carolina A &
T State University, and his colleagues conducted a study last year that found very low
concentrations of copper can be combined with lactic acid to kill E. coli O157 on the surface of
lettuces and tomatoes. Low concentrations are favorable because at higher concentrations, it
might affect the taste of the food, Ibrahim said. Without the lactic acid, low concentrations of
copper had little effect on the bacteria, he said. Ibrahim and colleagues hope to make their
solution into a product available for commercial use in the food industry.
Copper ore is mined both underground and on the surface. Large excavations formed by
surface mining are called open-pit mines. Most of the copper ores mined today are oxide or
sulfide ores.
From the mines, copper ore is taken to mills, where it is crushed and finely ground in
preparation for refining. The method of refining varies with the type of ore.
In the case of copper-oxide ores, the copper is usually leached (dissolved) from the ore with a
solution of sulfuric acid.
The copper can be recovered from the leaching solution through electrolysis. In this process, a
direct electric current is set up between positive and negative electrodes placed in the solution.
The negative electrodes, called cathodes, are usually made of thin sheets of pure copper and
the positive electrodes, called anodes, are usually made of lead. The electric current causes
the copper in the solution to be deposited on the cathodes as a coating of pure copper.
Another method is to pass the solution over scrap iron; a chemical reaction causes the copper
to be deposited on the iron. The copper is separated from the iron by methods used to refine
copper-sulfide ores (many of which also contain iron).
Copper-sulfide ores are first treated by a process called flotation. In this process, bubbles are
produced in a mixture of ground copper ore, water, and chemical reagents. The particles of
copper-bearing minerals in the ore stick to the bubbles and float to the top of the mixture,
where they can be skimmed off.
The copper-bearing minerals are roasted to drive off a part of the sulfur. The resulting product
is smelted, yielding a molten combination of copper sulfate and iron sulfide called matte. Some
light impurities in the matte combine to form slag, which is removed. The matte is then poured
into a converter, where air is forced through it to burn out the remaining sulfur and to oxidize
the iron. At this stage, most of the remaining impurities, including the oxidized iron, float to the
top of the matte to form more slag, which is poured off.
The metallic copper that is left at the bottom of the converter is known as blister copper. It is
very pure, but further refining is necessary to remove impurities consisting of small amounts of
gold, silver, and other precious metals.
This refining is done electrochemically, using a process similar to the one used with oxide
ores. In this case, however, the anode is molded from blister copper and decomposes during
electrolysis. The direct electric current that flows between the electrodes placed in an
electrolytic tank transfers the copper of the blister copper anode onto the cathode. The
precious-metal impurities collect at the bottom of the tank.
A significant portion of the copper produced today is refined from copper scrap. Copper
produced from scrap is called secondary copper.
Sulfide ores
Secondary sulfides those formed by supergene secondary enrichment are resistant
(refractory) to sulfuric leaching. These ores are a mixture of copper carbonate, sulfate,
phosphate, and oxide minerals and secondary sulfide minerals, dominantly chalcocite but
other minerals such as digenite can be important in some deposits.
Supergene ores rich in sulfides may be concentrated using froth flotation. A typical concentrate
of chalcocite can grade between 37% and 40% copper in sulfide, making them relatively cheap
to smelt compared to chalcopyrite concentrates.
Some supergene sulfide deposits can be leached using a bacterial oxidation heap leach
process to oxidize the sulfides to sulfuric acid, which also allows for simultaneous leaching with
sulfuric acid to produce a copper sulfate solution. As with oxide ores, solvent extraction and
electrowinning technologies are used to recover the copper from the pregnant leach solution.
Supergene sulfide ores rich in native copper minerals are refractory to treatment with sulfuric
acid leaching on all practicable time scales, and the dense metal particles do not react with
froth flotation media. Typically, if native copper is a minor part of a supergene profile it will not
be recovered and will report to the tailings. When rich enough, native copper ore bodies may
be treated to recover the contained copper via a gravity separation circuit where the density of
the metal is used to liberate it from the lighter silicate minerals. Often, the nature of the gangue
is important, as clay-rich native copper ores prove difficult to liberate.
Oxide ores
Oxidised copper ore bodies may be treated via several processes, with hydrometallurgical
processes used to treat oxide ores dominated by copper carbonate minerals such
as azurite and malachite, and other soluble minerals such as silicates like chrysocolla, or
sulfates such as atacamite and so on.
Such oxide ores are usually leached by sulfuric acid, usually in a heap leaching or dump
leaching process to liberate the copper minerals into a solution of sulfuric acid laden
with copper sulfate in solution. The copper sulfate solution (the pregnant leach solution) is then
stripped of copper via a solvent extraction and electrowinning (SX-EW) plant, with the barred
(denuded) sulfuric acid recycled back on to the heaps. Alternatively, the copper can be
precipitated out of the pregnant solution by contacting it with scrap iron; a process
called cementation. Cement copper is normally less pure than SX-EW copper. Commonly
sulfuric acid is used as a leachant for copper oxide, although it is possible to use water,
particularly for ores rich in ultra-soluble sulfate minerals.
[citation needed]

In general, froth flotation is not used to concentrate copper oxide ores, as oxide minerals are
not responsive to the froth flotation chemicals or process (i.e.; they do not bind to the
kerosene-based chemicals). Copper oxide ores have occasionally been treated via froth
flotation via sulfidation of the oxide minerals with certain chemicals which react with the oxide
mineral particles to produce a thin rime of sulfide (usually chalcocite), which can then be
activated by the froth flotation plant.
Copper extraction techniques refer to the methods for obtaining copper from its ores.
The conversion of copper consists of a series of chemical, physical, and electrochemical
processes. Methods have evolved and vary with country depending on the ore source, local
environmental regulations, and other factors.
As in all mining operations, the ore must usually be beneficiated (concentrated). To do this,
the ore is crushed. Then it must be roasted to convert sulfides to oxides, which are smelted to
produce matte. Finally, it undergoes various refining processes, the final one
being electrolysis. For economic and environmental reasons, many of the byproducts of
extraction are reclaimed. Sulfur dioxide gas, for example, is captured and turned into
sulfuric which is then used in the extraction process.
Most copper ores contain only a small percentage of copper metal bound up within
valuable ore minerals, with the remainder of the ore being unwanted rock or gangue minerals,
typically silicate minerals or oxide minerals for which there is often no value. The average
grade of copper ores in the 21st century is below 0.6% copper, with a proportion of economic
ore minerals (including copper) being less than 2% of the total volume of the ore rock. A key
objective in the metallurgical treatment of any ore is the separation of ore minerals from
gangue minerals within the rock.
The first stage of any process within a metallurgical treatment circuit is accurate grinding
or comminution, where the rock is crushed to produce small particles (<100 m) consisting of
individual mineral phases. These particles are then separated to remove gangue, thereafter
followed by a process of physical liberation of the ore minerals from the rock. The process of
liberation of copper ores depends upon whether they are oxide or sulfide ores.

Subsequent steps depend on the nature of the ore containing the copper. For oxide ores, a
hydrometallurgical liberation process is normally undertaken, which uses the soluble nature of
the ore minerals to the advantage of the metallurgical treatment plant. For sulfide ores, both
secondary (supergene) and primary (unweathered), froth flotation is used to physically
separate ore from gangue. For special native copper bearing ore bodies or sections of ore
bodies rich in supergen native copper, this mineral can be recovered by a simple gravity

Copper is widely used in electrical wiring and household plumbing. All U.S. coins are copper
alloys, and gun metals also contain copper.
Copper is also used to create brass or bronze alloys. Brass, a mixture of copper and zinc, is
used in a wide variety of applications including cookware and musical instruments, and in
practical products such as zippers or screws. Bronze, typically an alloy of copper and tin, is an
ancient material used in tools, weapons, building materials and statuary.
Copper is also mixed into the paint used on the underside of ships to prevent seaweed, algae
and barnacles from sticking to the vessel. Copper is commonly used as an algaecide and
agricultural poison.
Fehling's solution, a compound of copper, is often used in analytical chemistry as a test for
Copper Trivia:
Copper has been used since ancient times. Historians even call the period of time between
the Neolithic and Bronze Ages the Copper Age.
Copper(I) burns blue in a flame test.
Copper(II) burns green in a flame test.
Copper's atomic symbol Cu is derived from the Latin term 'cuprum' meaning 'metal of
Copper sulfate compounds are used to prevent fungus and algae growth in standing water
supplies such as ponds and fountains.
Copper is a red-orange metal that darkens to a brown color as it is exposed to air. If it is
exposed to air and water, it will form verdigris of blue-green.
Copper has an abundance of 80 parts per million in the Earth's crust.
Copper has an abundance of 2.5 x 10
mg/L in sea water.
Copper sheets were added to the bottom of ships to prevent 'biofouling' where seaweed,
assorted other greenery and barnacles would cling to ships and slow them down. Today,
copper is mixed into the paint used to paint the underside of ships.


Copper - A Metal Used Through The Ages
Copper was one of the first metals ever extracted and used by humans, and it has made vital
contributions to sustaining and improving society since the dawn of civilization. Copper was
first used in coins and ornaments starting about 8000 B.C., and at about 5500 B.C., copper
tools helped civilization emerge from the Stone Age. The discovery that copper alloyed with tin
produces bronze marked the beginning of the Bronze Age at about 3000 B.C.

Copper is easily stretched, molded, and shaped; is resistant to corrosion; and conducts heat
and electricity efficiently. As a result, copper was important to early humans and continues to
be a material of choice for a variety of domestic, industrial, and high-technology applications

How Do We Use Copper Today?
Presently, copper is used in building construction, power generation and transmission,
electronic product manufacturing, and the production of industrial machinery and transportation
vehicles. Copper wiring and plumbing are integral to the appliances, heating and cooling
systems, and telecommunications links used every day in homes and businesses. Copper is
an essential component in the motors, wiring, radiators, connectors, brakes, and bearings
used in cars and trucks. The average car contains 1.5 kilometers (0.9 mile) of copper wire, and
the total amount of copper ranges from 20 kilograms (44 pounds) in small cars to 45 kilograms
(99 pounds) in luxury and hybrid vehicles.

Ancient Uses of Copper
As in ancient times, copper remains a component of coinage used in many countries, but
many new uses have been identified. One of copper's more recent applications includes its
use in frequently touched surfaces (such as brass doorknobs), where copper's antimicrobial
properties reduce the transfer of germs and disease. Semiconductor manufacturers have also
begun using copper for circuitry in silicon chips, which enables microprocessors to operate
faster and use less energy. Copper rotors have also recently been found to increase the
efficiency of electric motors, which are a major consumer of electric power.

What Properties Make Copper Useful?
The excellent alloying properties of copper have made it invaluable when combined with
other metals, such as zinc (to form brass), tin (to form bronze), or nickel. These alloys have
desirable characteristics and, depending on their composition, are developed for highly
specialized applications. For example, copper-nickel alloy is applied to the hulls of ships
because it does not corrode in seawater and reduces the adhesion of marine life, such as
barnacles, thereby reducing drag and increasing fuel efficiency. Brass is more malleable and
has better acoustic properties than pure copper or zinc; consequently, it is used in a variety of
musical instruments, including trumpets, trombones, bells, and cymbals.

Types of Copper Deposits
Copper occurs in many forms, but the circumstances that control how, when, and where it is
deposited are highly variable. As a result, copper occurs in many different
minerals. Chalcopyrite is the most abundant and economically significant of the copper

Research designed to better understand the geologic processes that produce mineral
deposits, including copper deposits, is an important component of the USGS Mineral
Resources Program. Copper deposits are broadly classified on the basis of how the deposits
formed. Porphyry copper deposits, which are associated with igneousintrusions, yield about
two-thirds of the world's copper and are therefore the world's most important type of copper
deposit. Large copper deposits of this type are found in mountainous regions of western North
and South America.

Another important type of copper deposit-the type contained in sedimentary-accounts for
approximately one-fourth of the world's identified copper resources. These deposits occur in
such areas as the central African copper belt and the Zechstein basin of Eastern Europe.

Individual copper deposits may contain hundreds of millions of tons of copper-bearing rock and
commonly are developed by using open-pit mining methods. Mining operations, which usually
follow ore discovery by many years, often last for decades. Although many historic mining
operations were not required to conduct their mining activities in ways that would reduce their
impact on the environment, current Federal and State regulations do require that mining
operations use environmentally sound practices to minimize the effects of mineral
development on human and ecosystem health.

USGS mineral environmental research helps characterize the natural and human interactions
between copper deposits and the surrounding aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Research
helps define the natural baseline conditions before mining begins and after mine closure.
USGS scientists are investigating climatic, geologic, and hydrologic variables to better
understand the resource-environment interactions.

Copper Supply, Demand and Recycling
The world's production (supply) and consumption (demand) of copper have increased
dramatically in the past 25 years. As large developing countries have entered the global
market, demand for mineral commodities, including copper, has increased. In the past 20
years, the Andean region of South America has emerged as the world's most productive
copper region. In 2007, about 45 percent of the world's copper was produced from the Andes
Mountains; the United States produced 8 percent. Virtually all copper produced in the United
States comes from, in decreasing order of production, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, or
The risk of disruption to the global copper supply is considered to be low because copper
production is globally dispersed and is not limited to a single country or region. Because of its
importance in construction and power transmission, however, the impact of any copper supply
disruption would be high.
Copper is one of the most widely recycled of all metals; approximately one-third of all copper
consumed worldwide is recycled. Recycled copper and its alloys can be remelted and used
directly or further reprocessed to refined copper without losing any of the metal's chemical or
physical properties.

How Do We Ensure Adequate Supplies of Copper for the Future?

To help predict where future copper resources might be located, USGS scientists study how
and where known copper resources are concentrated in the Earth's crust and use that
knowledge to assess the potential for undiscovered copper resources. Techniques to assess
mineral resource potential have been developed and refined by the USGS to support the
stewardship of Federal lands and to better evaluate mineral resource availability in a global

In the 1990s, the USGS conducted an assessment of U.S. copper resources and concluded
that nearly as much copper remained to be found as had already been discovered.
Specifically, the USGS found that about 350 million tons of copper had been discovered and
estimated that about 290 million tons of copper remained undiscovered in the United States.

Global Copper Resource Assessment
The USGS assessed undiscovered copper in two deposit types that account for about 80
percent of the world's copper supply. Porphyry copper deposits account for about 60 percent of
the world's copper. In porphyry copper deposits, copper ore minerals are disseminated in
igneous intrusions. Sediment-hosted strata bound copper deposits, in which copper is
concentrated in layers in sedimentary rocks, account for about 20 percent of the world's
identified copper resources. Globally, mines in these two deposit types produce about 12
million tons of copper per year.

This study considered potential for exposed and concealed deposits within 1 kilometer of the
surface for porphyry deposits and up to 2.5 kilometers of the surface for sediment-hosted
stratabound deposits. For porphyry deposits, 175 tracts were delineated; 114 tracts contain 1
or more identified deposits. Fifty tracts were delineated for sediment-hosted stratabound
copper deposits; 27 contain 1 or more identified deposits.

Results of the assessment are provided by deposit type for 11 regions (table 1). The mean
total undiscovered resource for porphyry deposits is 3,100 million tons, and the mean total
undiscovered resource for sediment-hosted deposits is 400 million tons, for a global total of
3,500 million tons of copper. The ranges of resource estimates (between the 90th and 10th
percentiles) reflect the geologic uncertainty in the assessment process. Approximately 50
percent of the global total occurs in South America, South Central Asia and Indochina, and
North America combined.

South America has the largest identified and undiscovered copper resources (about 20
percent of the total undiscovered amount). The world's largest porphyry deposits are mined in
this region.

Central America and the Caribbean host two undeveloped giant (>2 million ton copper)
porphyry copper deposits in Panama. Most of the undiscovered resources are in a belt that
extends from Panama to southwestern Mexico.

North America hosts highly mineralized porphyry copper tracts that include supergiant (>25
million tons copper) porphyry deposits in northern Mexico, the western United States, and
Alaska, as well as giant deposits in western Canada. The estimated undiscovered porphyry
copper resources are approximately equal to the identified resources. In the United States,
undiscovered sediment-hosted strata bound copper deposits in Michigan, Montana, and Texas
are estimated to contain about three times as much copper as has been identified. Two giant
deposits are known, in Michigan and Montana.

Northeast Asia is relatively underexplored, with modest identified porphyry copper resources
and only one identified giant porphyry copper deposit. However, the mean undiscovered
resources are estimated to be quite large. This region has the largest ratio of undiscovered to
identified resources in the study.

North Central Asia has 35 porphyry copper deposits, including a supergiant deposit in
Mongolia and a giant deposit in Kazakhstan. The tract area is estimated to contain about three
times the amount of identified porphyry copper resource. This region also hosts three giant
sediment-hosted strata bound copper deposits, in Kazakhstan and Russia. The USGS
estimates that as much sediment-hosted strata bound copper as has already been discovered
may be present.

South Central Asia and Indochina are less thoroughly explored than many other parts of the
world; however, four giant porphyry copper deposits have been identified to date in the Tibetan
Plateau. Undiscovered porphyry copper deposits may contain eight times the identified amount
of copper.

Southeast Asia Archipelagos host world-class, gold-rich porphyry copper deposits such as a
supergiant in Indonesia and about 16 giant deposits in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the
Philippines. Although parts of the region are well explored, undiscovered porphyry resources
are likely to exceed identified resources.

Eastern Australia has one giant porphyry copper deposit and several small porphyry
deposits. Modest undiscovered resources are expected under cover.

Eastern Europe and Southwestern Asia have been mined for copper since ancient times,
and giant porphyry copper deposits have recently been identified. Undiscovered copper is
predicted to be about twice the identified resources, both for porphyry deposits along a belt
from Romania through Turkey and Iran and for sediment-hosted strata bound deposits in

Western Europe has the largest sediment-hosted strata bound copper deposit in the world, in
Poland. Undiscovered sediment-hosted strata bound copper resources in southwestern Poland
are estimated to exceed identified resources by about 30 percent.

Africa and the Middle East have the world's largest accumulation of sediment-hosted
stratabound copper deposits, with 19 giant deposits in the Central African Copper belt in the
Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. Significant undiscovered copper resources remain
to be discovered.

Zinc, in commerce also spelter,
is a metallic chemical element;
it has the symbol Zn and atomic
number 30. It is the first element
of group 12 of theperiodic table.
In some respects zinc is
chemically similar to magnesium:
its ionis of similar size and its only
common oxidation state is +2. Zinc
is the 24th most abundant element
in the Earth's crust and has five stable isotopes. The most common zinc ore is sphalerite (zinc
blende), a zinc sulfide mineral. The largest mineable amounts are found in Australia, Asia, and
the United States. Zinc production includes froth flotation of the ore, roasting, and
final extractionusing electricity (electrowinning).
Discovery: Zinc has been used for thousands of years to make brass products. Evidence of
zinc alloys were found in prehistoric ruins in Transylvania. It was first produced as a metal in
13th century India by reducing zinc carbonate (smithsonite) or zinc silicate (calamine) with
organic substances like wool. Zinc was rediscovered in Europe in 1746 by Andreas Sigismund
Marggraf, who obtained zinc by reducing calamine with charcoal.

Physical properties
Phase solid
Density (near r.t.) 7.14 gcm

Liquid density atm.p. 6.57 gcm

Melting point 692.68 K787.15 F 419.53 C, ,
Boiling point 1665 F 907 C, 1180 K,
Heat of fusion 7.32 kJmol

Heat of vaporization 115 kJmol

Molar heat capacity 25.470 Jmol

History and Uses:
Although zinc compounds have been used for at least 2,500 years in the production of brass,
zinc wasn't recognized as a distinct element until much later. Metallic zinc was first produced in
India sometime in the 1400s by heating the mineral calamine (ZnCO
) with wool. Zinc was
rediscovered by Andreas Sigismund Marggraf in 1746 by heating calamine with charcoal.
Today, most zinc is produced through the electrolysis of aqueous zinc sulfate (ZnSO
Roughly one third of all metallic zinc produced today is used in a process known as
galvanization. During galvanization, an object that is subject to corrosion, such as an iron nail,
is given a protective coating of zinc. The zinc can be applied to an object by dipping it in a pool
of molten zinc, but it is most often applied through an electroplating process. Sacrificial zinc
anodes are used in cathodic protection systems to protect exposed iron from corrosion.
Metallic zinc is also used to make dry cell batteries, roof cladding and die castings.
Zinc is used to make many useful alloys. Brass, an alloy of zinc that contains between 55%
and 95% copper, is probably the best known zinc alloy. Brass was first used about 2,500 years
ago and was widely used by the ancient Romans, who used it to make such things as coins,
kettles and decorative items. Brass is still used today, particularly in musical instruments,
screws and other hardware that must resist corrosion. Zinc is alloyed with lead and tin to make
solder, a metal with a relatively low melting point used to join electrical components, pipes and
other metallic items. Prestal

, an alloy containing 78% zinc and 22% aluminum, is a strange

material that is nearly as strong as steel but is molded as easily as plastic. Nickel silver,
typewriter metal, spring brass and German silver are other common zinc alloys.
Zinc oxide (ZnO), a common zinc compound, forms when metallic zinc is exposed to the air
and forms a protective coating that protects the rest of the metal. Zinc oxide is used in paints,
some rubber products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, plastics, printing inks, soap and batteries,
among other things. Zinc sulfide (ZnS), another zinc compound, glows when it is exposed to
ultraviolet light, X-rays or electrons and is used to make luminous watch dials, television
screens and fluorescent light bulbs. Zinc chloride (ZnCl
) is another zinc compound that is
used to protect wood from decay and insects.
*Iron and Zinc May Prevent PMS
Women who feel bloated, irritable or depressed before getting their periods classic signs of
premenstrual syndrome, or PMS may want to pay attention to the amount of iron in their
diets, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that women with an iron
intake of more than 20 milligrams a day had about a 35 percent lower risk of being diagnosed
with PMS than women who had the lowest iron intake, about 10 mg a day. To get the higher
amount, a woman would only have to eat one cup of iron-fortified cereal, which typically
contains about 24 mg of the mineral.
PMS affects anywhere from 8 to 15 percent of women during their childbearing years and is
characterized by physical and emotional symptoms ranging from breast tenderness and food
cravings to fatigue and moodiness.
Other research has shown that diet affects the development of PMS or may ease the severity
of its symptoms. For example, diets high in calcium-rich foods have been shown to lower the
risk of PMS, but little was known about the role other minerals might play in preventing the
For the study, researchers reviewed three sets of food frequency questionnaires collected over
a 10-year period from more than 3,000 American women, ages 25 to 42. All the women were
enrolled in the ongoing Nurses' Health Study II, which is exploring the influence of diet and
lifestyle on women's health.
Researchers compared the mineral intakes from food as well as supplements for nearly 1,060
women who had been diagnosed with PMS against those of roughly 1,970 women who had
few if any PMS symptoms.
The scientists also considered other factors linked to PMS, such as a woman's age, weight,
pregnancy history, use of oral contraceptives and her smoking and exercise habits.
"We were somewhat surprised by our findings for iron since no previous studies had observed
this relationship," said study author Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson, Sc.D., an associate professor
of epidemiology at UMass Amherst.
But not all forms of dietary iron are the same. It was primarily the iron found in plant foods and
in supplements, non-heme iron, that reduced a woman's chances of developing PMS. The
heme iron coming from animal sources, such as red meat and poultry, did not have the same
Bertone-Johnson suspects that non-heme iron had a stronger relationship with PMS because
it's easier to eat a diet rich in plant and supplement sources. For example, three-quarters of a
cup of fortified cereal has 18 mg of non-heme iron, and a cup of lentil or beans has between 3
and 7 mg. But a 3-ounce serving of beef has only 2 to 3 mg of heme iron, so you would need
to eat a large serving of beef to meet your daily iron needs, which is not advisable considering
its saturated fat content.
The study, which was published online today (Feb. 26) in the American Journal of
Epidemiology, evaluated data for eight different minerals.
Potassium: A Surprising Finding
Iron was not the only mineral linked to an improvement in PMS symptoms. The study found
some evidence that a zinc intake of more than 15 milligrams a day was associated with a lower
risk of PMS. But this effect was only seen for zinc supplements and not for food sources of the
Although the role zinc may play in PMS needs to be evaluated in greater detail, deficiencies of
the mineral may be linked to mood-related symptoms like depression and possibly menstrual
cramps, Bertone-Johnson said.
Researchers found no connection between intakes of sodium, magnesium or manganese and
PMS. But it was a completely different story for potassium; high intakes of this mineral were
linked to a greater risk for PMS.
"We saw a 46 percent increase in the risk of PMS only among women with the highest level of
intake, which was approximately 3,700 milligrams a day. This was compared to women
consuming the lowest amount, or roughly 2,300 milligrams," Bertone-Johnson said.
Potassium, found in foods such as sweet potatoes, bananas and orange juice, may increase a
woman's chances of developing PMS by boosting levels of a hormone linked to water
retention. The mineral may also contribute to other physical and emotional symptoms, such as
bloating, depression and irritability.
"We were surprised to find that potassium intake was associated with a higher risk of PMS, as
this was contrary to our expectations," Bertone-Johnson said.
Because the effects of potassium on PMS need further investigation and the mineral is an
important component of a healthy diet, Bertone-Johnson said she would still encourage
women who have PMS to consume the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for potassium, or
4,700 mg a day. But they should not go considerably higher than that amount.
"Our findings suggest that minerals, including iron and zinc, may be involved in PMS, but this
needs to be replicated in other studies," Bertone-Johnson said.
For now, she suggests that women experiencing PMS symptoms meet the RDA for these
minerals: 18 mg a day for iron and 8 mg a day for zinc. She also recommends getting 1,000
mg of calcium daily, the RDA for this mineral.
*Produce from Urban Gardens Could Contain Lead
Urban food gardens offer a great source of affordable,
nutritious fruits and veggies for city dwellers, but high
levels of toxic metals in soil, especially lead, could
pose health risks for people who grow or eat the
produce, according to some scientists.
"In places where the soil is heavily contaminated,
urban food production may raise as many public
health concerns as it solves," said Samantha Langley-Turbaugh, a soil scientist at the
University of Southern Maine in Portland. Langley-Turnbaugh discussed the risks associated
with growing produce in contaminated soil at the annual conference of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston earlier this month.
Toxic metals, such as lead, zinc and cadmium, are commonly found in soil, particularly in
urban areas. And lead is neurotoxic, especially to babies and young children. Previous studies
have linked lead to cognitive and developmental delays, lower IQs, violent behavior and health
problems, such as high blood pressure. As in the case with lead, exposure to cadmium may
lead to learning disabilities, while too much zinc can cause nausea, diarrhea and anemia.
However, the bulk of the research on toxic metals has focused on lead, since lead poisoning is
the number one environmental threat to children in the United States.
Sources of lead in soil include past industrial activities, flaking lead paint from old houses, and
emissions from leaded gasoline. Though the United States phased out leaded gasoline in cars
and trucks during the 1970s and 1980s, soil in high-traffic and urban areas may still contain
high levels of the metal.
Some plants can take up lead in contaminated soil through their root systems. Root vegetables
and tubers, such as carrots, potatoes and turnips, usually have the highest lead
concentrations. Leafy greens, such as spinach, also have high concentrations, according to
Langley-Turnbaugh. Fruit-bearing plants, such as tomatoes, strawberries and squash, tend to
contain lower lead concentrations.
Few studies have examined the quantity of lead-contaminated produce a person would need
to eat in order to raise levels of lead in the blood. It could be highly variable depending on the
initial lead concentration in the soil, the type of plant, how much a person eats and his or her
body weight, said Langley-Turnbaugh. "It would also depend on a person's nutritional status.
The body often retains more lead if it is deficient in calcium," she said.
The total tolerable intake of lead for a child 5 years old or younger is 6 micrograms per day. To
put that in perspective, a packet of artificial sweetener usually contains 1 gram of sweetener.
Six micrograms is equal to six-millionths of the content of that packet, so not all that much.
"It is easy for a child to obtain more than 6 micrograms of lead per day in a contaminated
environment," said Howard Mielke, a toxicologist at Tulane University in New Orleans, who
also spoke at the AAAS conference.
Contact with the soil itself may pose an even greater concern than eating contaminated
vegetables, said Mielke. When urban gardeners dig in the soil, they can stir up dust from the
garden and inhale the lead particles it contains. And children who play in soil can ingest lead
when they put their fingers in their mouths. Previous studies have correlated high levels of lead
in the soil of urban yards with high levels of the metal in children's blood, according to Langley-
"We dont want to discourage people from gardening or eating produce grown in urban areas,
but we do want to suggest some precautions," said Kim Dietrich, an environmental health
scientist at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine, who did not present at the
Adults and children, for instance, should wear gloves while gardening, and take them off
before going inside, said Dietrich. Also, it's important to wash produce thoroughly before eating
it to make sure no soil remains on the food, added Mielke.
Urban gardeners can also take steps to separate their crops from lead contamination. Planting
produce in raised beds with store-bought soil will keep plant roots from coming into contact
with contaminated earth.
Because lead travels more readily into the roots of plants when soil conditions are acidic,
increasing the alkalinity of the soil may halt the plant's absorption of lead. Adding lime to the
soil may raise the pH, making the soil more alkaline or basic.
Houses built before 1978 likely contain lead paint. Even if the house has been remediated and
there is no longer a danger from lead paint inside the home, flakes and chips of old paint may
remain in the soil around the foundation of the house. Dietrich recommends situating gardens
away from the base of the house and away from roadways, where lead levels may be highest.
Before planting a food garden, Langley-Turnbaugh recommends testing the soil for
contamination. Most states offer low-cost soil testing through their agricultural cooperative
extensions. In her home state of Maine, Langley-Turnbaugh said testing soil for one heavy
metal costs about $25 per sample.
*Tiny Generator Would Make Electricity While You Walk
Are you tired of keeping track of all those little chargers
for your phone, your music player and your other little
electronic gadgets? Professor Zhong Lin Wang of the
Georgia Institute of Technology may have the answer.
Wang has created a tiny nanogenerator that produces
a continuous flow of electricity by harvesting mechanical
energy from its surroundings. It can produce energy
from ultrasonic waves, mechanical movement or even
blood flow.
Wang stated:
"This is a major step toward a portable, adaptable and
cost-effective technology for powering nanoscale
devices. There has been a lot of interest in making nanodevices, but we have tended not to
think about how to power them. Our nanogenerator allows us to harvest or recycle energy from
many sources to power these devices."
The prototype nanogenerator is made up of tiny wires that are free to flex just slightly. When
moved by mechanical energy, they flex and make contact with a collection plate. The wires
have piezoelectric qualities, meaning that they provide a tiny voltage when mechanical stress
is applied. By capturing the output of large numbers of nanowires in motion, the prototype
nanogenerator produces a miniscule direct current output.
Wang and his group believe that the nanowires could produce as much as 4 watts per cubic
centimeter. "If you had a device like this in your shoes when you walked, you would be able to
generate your own small current to power small electronics," Wang noted. "Anything that
makes the nanowires move within the generator can be used for generating power. Very little
force is required to move them."
Science fiction fans are always looking for ways to enable the creation of their own favorite
devices. For example, the still suit from Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune made use of the
body's own mechanical energy to provide power for the suit, which captured perspiration and
other body moisture and processed it for reuse.
It's basically a micro-sandwich; a high-efficiency filter and heat-exchange system. The skin-
contact layer is porous. Perspiration passes through it, having cooled the body. Motions of the
body, especially breathing, and [heel-powered pumps] provide the pumping force. With a ...
suit in good working order, you won't lose more than a thimbleful of moisture a day...
Zinc is a good metal for a kid to use for casting. It's easily available at a scrap metal dealer (at
least it used to be) for next to nothing. It melts at a low enough temperature that you can melt it
on the stove, with effort, or with a propane torch. And it's quite non-toxic, certainly far less toxic
than lead. (I have a special page about zinc safety that addresses in detail the question of
whether casting zinc metal is a health hazard.)
Arguably tin is the best metal for amateur casting, but it's much more expensive and not
generally available as scrap metal unless you live in a large city with exotic scrap dealers. In
any case, growing up I never had access to tin, but I had plenty of zinc.
Lost wax casting is about as ancient a technology as they come. The first step is to make
something out of wax. Any kind will do, but note that paraffin isn't wax, and you can't work it
other than to carve it. Beeswax is better, and you should be able to get it at craft stores (candle
making section). (I got my supply at an apothecary in Zurich and took it to America in a cloth
suitcase. When I picked up the suitcase after the flight, the outside was smeared with a thick
layer of greasy-waxy stuff, which of course I assumed must be my wax melted out so as to
cause a horror when I went through customs. Turns out my wax was fine, it was just some kind
of airplane slime that had gotten on the suitcase.)
Anyway, after you've finished your wax object, you attach a conical stem also made of wax,
then pour a mold-making compound around the whole thing, leaving just the end of the wax
cone sticking out. There are many proper ways of doing this, and many proper mold
compounds. I, of course, didn't have any, so I used plaster of paris to make the molds. It's
cheap and can be found in any hardware store (in the drywall supplies section).
I would make a cardboard box about 2-3 inches larger on all sides than the wax object, and
open on the top. Then I would drip hot wax onto the bottom and stick the top of the wax cone
onto it, leaving the object standing up as if it were a wax flower on a wax stem. Next I would
stick long pins or needles through the cardboard and into the wax object at several locations
(the places that would become high-points inside the mold when it was turned right side up for
casting). The pins helped hold the wax object in place, and when removed the holes prevented
air pockets when the metal was poured in.
I would mix up the plaster of paris to a slurry consistency, then pour it into the box. I learned
after a while that it was very important to work out air bubbles. Since then I've seen films
showing special vibrating machines designed to do exactly this, but I did it by shaking, and by
reaching in and swishing my fingers around the object to brush off any bubbles that might be
clinging to it.
After the plaster hardened, I would remove the cardboard (which was all soggy), then bake the
mold over a tray of aluminum foil to remove the wax.
It takes a very, very long time to bake a mold, all day for a big one. And I definitely learned not
to cut corners on the baking time. You've got to make sure all the wax out, and that the plaster
has had all its residual water driven out of it. If you try this, you'll probably ruin a few before you
believe me on this.
If the mold isn't completely baked, the metal will sputter and bubble when you pour it in, often
shooting balls of still-molten metal flying. The only time I've ever burned myself working with
metal (or gunpowder) was when a drop like that landed on my hand. After that I wore gloves
every time. And of course this ruins the mold too. (It goes without saying that you must be
wearing safety glasses any time you pour molten metal into a mold. Just try to imagine how
painful it would be if even a tiny bit of molten metal seared itself into your eyeball.)
Most metals shrink when they harden, which will result in voids in cast object. (There are
several methods for avoiding this, but they involve spinning the mold at high speed in a kind of
centrifuge. That strikes me as dangerous.) I tried to minimize the problem by letting the mold
cool after baking (but not overnight, as it would then absorb moisture again), and then playing
a propane torch over the top of the cone of molten metal right after pouring it in. My theory was
that this would make the metal harden from the bottom up, drawing in more liquid from the
cone as necessary. I'm not sure it had much effect.
Once the metal was solid, I would start dribbling water over the top of the mold, to hasten the
cooling process. This was dangerous, because if any liquid metal had remained, it could have
triggered a steam explosion. But I was of course impatient to see what I'd made! Hot baked
plaster of paris is amazingly porous: You can pour a steady stream of water onto it and the
water will vanish before it's even spread much over the surface, as if you're pouring it straight
into the solid material.
When the metal was well solidified and the water had stopped hissing, I would take a hammer
and bash away at the plaster until it cracked open revealing the metal object inside. It took a
good bit of cleaning with a screwdriver and wire brush to get all the plaster off. And of course I
always had to cut and file off the filling stem, along with any bumps caused by bubbles, and
the little whiskers from the needle holes.
I'm not saying this is the best way to do lost wax casting: It isn't. It's just the way I did it.

Other good metals for casting include lead which is very easy to melt and easy to get at
hardware stores, but is toxic enough to worry about especially if you file or sand it. Because of
the potential for permanent brain damage, children should never cast lead themselves. It's not
so much that the vapors are toxic as that kids can't be expected to rigorously wash their hands
after touching the lead or anything that has come in contact with it.
Copper and its alloys brass and bronze are of course the classic casting metals of antiquity,
along with silver. Copper is easy to get from scraps and cutoffs of electrical wire, and it's not
poisonous. Silver is much more expensive, but not as bad as you might think. $50 will buy
enough silver rounds from a coin shop to make several nice objects. Unfortunately the melting
points of copper and silver are high enough that you have to use something hotter than a stove
top to melt it. A charcoal fire with a blower would do, or a plumbers torch with MAPP gas (for
very small amounts). An electric crucible is ideal, but expensive. There's also a recently
discovered technique for casting metals with a microwave oven. Ask your mom first.

The other really good metals for casting are tin and aluminum. I've never had enough tin cheap
enough to do much with, so I can't tell you any specifics. It's probably a lot like lead. Aluminum
melts higher than zinc, tin, and lead, but not nearly as high as copper. An electric kiln or
propane torch will work. Aluminum is really easy, you can get it from cans, broken window
frames, old pots, whatever. But here's a word from the wise (David Ried, not me): You'll get
much better casting results if you melt down old things that were themselves cast, rather than
extruded aluminum. Cast aluminum contains silicon which greatly enhances the ability of the
molten metal to conform to details in the mold.
Zinc Mining
80% of zinc mines are underground, 8% are of the open pit type and the remainder is a
combination of both. However, in terms of production volume, open pit mines account for as
much as 15%, underground mines produce 64% and 21% of mine production comes from the
combined underground and open pit mining.
Rarely is the ore, as mined, rich enough to be used directly by smelters; it needs to be
concentrated. Zinc ores contain 5-15% zinc. To concentrate the ore it is first crushed and then
ground to enable optimal separation from the other minerals. Typically, a zinc concentrate
contains about 55% of zinc with some copper, lead and iron. Zinc concentration is usually
done at the mine site to keep transport costs to smelters as low as possible.
Roasting & Sintering
Over 95% of the worlds zinc is produced from zinc blende (ZnS). Apart from zinc the
concentrate contains some 25-30% or more sulfur as well as different amounts of iron, lead
and silver and other minerals. Before metallic zinc can be recovered, by using either
hydrometallurgical or pyrometallurgical techniques, sulfur in the concentrate must be removed.
This is done by roasting or sintering. The concentrate is brought to a temperature of more than
900C where zinc sulphide (ZnS) converts into the more active zinc oxide (ZnO). At the same
time sulfur reacts with oxygen giving out sulfur dioxide which subsequently is converted to
sulfuric acid an important commercial by-product.
The Hydrometallurgical Process
In a leaching stage the zinc oxide is separated from the other calcines. Sulfuric acid is used to
do this. The zinc content dissolves whereas iron precipitates and lead and silver remain
undissolved. However, the dissolved solution contains some impurities which need to be
eliminated in order to obtain a high-purity zinc product at the end of the production process.
Purification is mainly done by adding zinc dust to the solution. As all the elements to be
removed lie below zinc in the electrochemical series they can be precipitated by cementation.
The thus obtained purified solution passes an electrolytic process where the purified solution is
electrolyzed between lead alloy anodes and aluminum cathodes. An electrical current is
circulated through the electrolyte by applying an electrical difference of 3.3-3.5 volts between
the anode and cathode causing the zinc to deposit on the aluminum cathodes in high purity.
The deposited zinc is stripped off, dried, melted and cast into ingots. The zinc ingots may have
different grades: High Grade (HG) 99.95% and Special High Grade (SHG) 99.99% of zinc.

Today over 90% zinc is produced hydrometallurgical in electrolytic plants.
The Pyrometallurgical Process
The Imperial Smelting process is based on the reduction of zinc and lead into metal with
carbon in a specially designed Imperial Smelting furnace. The IS process is an energy-
intensive process and thus became very expensive following the rise of energy prices. Today,
Imperial Smelting furnaces are only in operation in China, India, Japan and Poland.
>>Lead Zinc Ore Beneficiation Concentration and Processing
When smelting and processing department needs to smelt, process and select ores according
to ore type, circle them on geology ichnography, and connect the adjacent section plane
accordingly, then the distribution scope should be circled, and calculated reserves,
Lead zinc ore generally smelts lead, zinc metal products through beneficiation enrichment to
fine ores. Ore technology processing smelting experiment is an important component in
geological exploration, and also the important basis for assessing whether ore deposit is
suitable for commodity ores. Therefore, ore beneficiability experiment should be carried
through in the process of geological exploration.

According to different types of ore, beneficiation experiment of lead zinc ore should take
different beneficiation method. Sulfide ore commonly adopts flotation method. Sulfide ore
uses flotation, gravity concentration together with flotation to beneficiation, or flotation after
sulfide baking, or re-flotation uses sulfuric acid after gravity concentration. As for lead zinc ore
which contains many metals, it often uses united beneficiation method of magnetic separation-
flotation, gravity concentration-flotation, gravity concentration-magnetic separation-flotation,
Classification of lead zinc ore in industrial type, is on the basis of natural types of ore, it can be
classified into sulfide ore lead, oxidized zinc, oxidized ore, etc in terms of ore oxidation degree.
In terms of useful components in ores, it can be classified into lead ore, zinc ore, lead zinc ore,
lead zinc copper ore, lead zinc sulfide ore, lead zinc copper sulfide ore, lead tin ore, lead
antimony ore, zinc copper ore, etc. In terms of different composition or structure of ore, it can
be classified into disseminated ore, compact ore, brecciaous ore, stripped ore, veinlet
disseminated ore, etc.
For any kinds of ore, and what kind of beneficiation method and process flow is adopted, its
concentrate grade should meet the standard of current non-ferrous metals industry, that is lead
concentrates standards replacing of zinc concentrate standards and lead zinc ore smelting
method: lead sulfide concentrate is the main mineral material for smelting, there are two
smelting methods. At present, its based on fire, hydrometallurgy is under experimental and
researching phase. Fire lead smelting mainly adopts sintering roasting imperial smelting
process, reaction smelting, precipitation smelting, and so on. Lead refining mainly uses fire
refining, followed by electro refining. Sulfide lead concentrate is the main mineral material for
lead smelting, which also have fire and hydrometallurgy smelting. Fire smelting uses vertical
retort, flat retort or electric furnaces; hydrometallurgy of zinc has developed rapidly these
years, and become the major way to smelt zinc. Rough zinc obtained by fire zinc smelting
adopts distillation refining or directly applies; but electrolytic zinc that obtained by
hydrometallurgy zinc smelting is high in quality, and no need of refining.
As for the sulfide lead zinc mixed concentrate which is hard to be separated, imperial smelting
furnace method which can produce lead and zinc is usually used. For the difficult separated
oxidized lead zinc mixed ore, there is special treatment method, that is undressed ore of
oxidized lead zinc mixed ore or its enrichment product, after sintering and briquetting, are melt
in blast furnace, so as to get rough lead, molten slags contains lead and zinc, slags are further
fumed in fuming furnace, and get oxidized zinc product, and electrolytic zinc is got by
hydrometallurgy zinc smelting. Besides, rotary kiln can be used to directly fume and get
oxidized zinc product. There are rich accompanying components in our lead, zinc
concentrates, the accompanying components have been comprehensively recovered, which
have excellent profit and good market. The comprehensive recovery products while smelting
lead are copper, sulfide, zinc, gold, silver, platinum group metals, bismuth, thallium, cadmium,
selenium, tellurium, etc. The comprehensive recovery products while smelting zinc are sulfide,
lead, cooper, gold, silver, indium, gallium, germanium, cadmium, cobalt, thallium, mercury, and
so on.