Introduction to Copper Commodities - dummies

Introduction to Copper Commodities

By Amine Bouchentouf

Copper, the third most widely used metal in the world, has applications as a commodity in many sectors, including construction, electricity conduction, and large-scale industrial projects. Copper is sought after because of its high electrical conductivity, resistance to corrosion, and malleability. Copper played a huge role during the Industrial Revolution and in connecting and wiring the modern world.

Because of the current trends of industrialization and urbanization across the globe, demand for copper has been — and will remain — very strong, making it a good investment.

Sector Copper Consumption (Percentage of Total)
Building/construction 50%
Engineering 24%
Electrical 17%
Transportation 7%
Miscellaneous Uses 2%

Source: Copper Development Association (CDA)

You probably come across items made from copper on a daily basis but may have never thought much about its ubiquity. These everyday items, among others, are made from copper:

  • Artistic items (bronze statues such as the Statue of Liberty)

  • Coinage (U.S. coins such as the quarter and the dime, which are more than 90 percent copper)

  • Construction tubes, pipes, and fittings

  • Doorknobs

  • Electrical wiring

  • High-speed Internet cables

  • Industrial sleeve bearings

  • Musical instruments (brass instruments such as the trumpet and the tuba)

  • Plumbing tubes

Copper is often alloyed with other metals, usually with nickel and zinc. When copper and nickel are alloyed, the resulting metal is bronze; when copper is alloyed with zinc, it results in brass. Ironically, the U.S. penny, the only U.S. coin that’s a reddish/brown color (the color of copper), is the only coin that uses only 2.5 percent copper — 97.5 percent of the penny is made from zinc. The other coins in U.S. currency, which are all silvery/white, contain more than 90 percent copper.

If you’re interested in finding out more about copper usage, consult the Copper Development Association.