Copper conducts electricity and heat very well which makes the metal an essential raw material in building communities and modern economies; 65 per cent of all copper produced around the world today is used to generate and conduct electricity. It is an incredibly important metal in the transition to alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and hydroelectric that need large amounts of copper both to generate electricity and transfer it over long distances with as little energy loss as possible. The supply of copper is thus one of the most important factors for effective energy transition.
Copper is one of the few metals which may occur as an uncombined element in nature. Since it has high thermal and electrical conductivity with notable flexibility and machinability, copper has known as a base metal in today’s industry. Alloyed copper with lead, tin, aluminum, etc. possesses extremely higher mechanical properties thus meeting expansive industrial applications. Copper metal can also make homogeneous mixtures with silicon, beryllium and nickel, having diverse industrial applications.
Copper mineral naturally occurs in three different forms; sulfide, carbonate and silicate. Copper may be found in native form as well. The production process of this metal is divided into two main categories of pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy. Addition to production from mineral resources, recycling of copper from wastes and scraps deploys a major role for supplying the copper demands.
Significant electrical conductivity of copper together with its great flexibility and malleability has led it to deliver various uses in electrical and tooling industries. Almost 60% of total copper consumption has been assigned to power and electrical industry. According to International Copper Study Group, global consumption of refined copper in 2015 exceeded 21.7 million tons, in which China was the greatest consumer, consuming more than 10 million tons.
Worldwide supply of copper during 2013 to 2015 has been reported about 20.8, 21.8 and 22.2 million tons of refined copper.
Iran gaining 21 million tons of proven copper reserves, contributes 3% of total copper investigated reserves across the world. Chile holding 209 million tons of copper reserves has been ranked as the top one country, while Iran occupies the 11th position among global ranking. Iran’s copper production is also 1.3% of total production.