Copper

DEFINITION of 'Copper'

One of the first metals extracted and used by humans, and among the most widely used metals in modern civilization. Copper is ductile, malleable and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity - these properties make it indispensable for numerous consumer, industrial and technology applications. It also combines well with other metals to form widely-used alloys such as brass and bronze. Copper is considered a base metal as it oxidizes relatively easily. It has the symbol Cu and the atomic number of 29 in the periodic table.

BREAKING DOWN 'Copper'

Copper has been instrumental in shaping human history. It was first used in coins and ornaments from about 8,000 B.C., and the discovery that it could be alloyed with tin to produce bronze ushered in the Bronze Age from approximately 3,000 B.C.


The rapid growth of developing nations such as China and India has significantly boosted global demand for copper in recent decades. The Andean region of South America is a prolific region for copper production globally, led by Chile, the world's biggest copper producer as of 2011.

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