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Copper is a reddish-coloured metal, with a high electrical and thermal conductivity (among pure metals at room temperature, only silver has a higher electrical conductivity). In oxidation is mildly basic. Copper has its characteristic colour because it reflects red and orange light and absorbs other frequencies in the visible spectrum, due to its band structure. Contrast this with the optical properties of silver, gold and aluminium.

Copper occupies the same family of the periodic table as silver and gold, hence it shares many characteristics with these metals. All have very high thermal and electrical conductivity. All are malleable metals.

Physical properties

Phase Solid
Density (near r.t. ) 8.96 g/cm³
Liquid density at m.p. 8.02 g/cm³
Melting point 1357.77 K
(1084.62 ° C , 1984.32 ° F )
Boiling point 2835 K
(2562 ° C , 4643 ° F )
Heat of fusion 13.26 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization 300.4 kJ/mol
Heat capacity (25 °C) 24.440 J/(mol·K

The El Chino open-pit copper mine in New Mexico. Native copper

Most round and square copper products are manufactured by wire drawing using either conventional manmade polycrystalline dies or natural single crystal diamond dies. Copper has excellent formability, and can be easily drawn from rod into very fine wire sizes without the need for intermediate process anneals.

Unalloyed pure copper, rather than its alloys, is used almost exclusively as electrical wire conductors. Oxygen is intentionally added in small quantities to control the impurity level and improve the electrical conductivity.

For information on the current world copper market and metal prices click here

Economic, technological and societal factors influence the supply and demand of copper. As society's need for copper increases, new mines and plants are introduced and existing ones expanded. In times of market surplus, existing operations can be scaled back or closed down, while planned expansions can be delayed or cancelled.