Home » Minerals » Copper

Copper


Mineral Properties and Uses


Copper

Copper: Copper from Bisbee, Arizona. This specimen is approximately 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters) across.

What is Copper?

Native copper is an element and a mineral. It is found in the oxidized zones of copper deposits; in hydrothermal veins; in the cavities of basalt that have been in contact with hydrothermal solutions; and as pore fillings and replacements in conglomerates that have been in contact with hydrothermal solutions. It is rarely found in large quantities, thus it is seldom the primary target of a mining operation. Most copper produced is extracted from sulfide deposits.




Uses of Copper

Native copper was probably one of the early metals worked by ancient people. Nuggets of the metal could be found in streams in a few areas, and its properties allowed it to be easily worked without a required processing step. Today most copper is produced from sulfide ores.

Copper is an excellent conductor of electricity. Most copper mined today is used to conduct electricity - mostly as wiring. It is also an excellent conductor of heat and is used in cooking utensils, heat sinks, and heat exchangers. Large amounts are also used to make alloys such as brass (copper and zinc) and bronze (copper, tin, and zinc). Copper is also alloyed with precious metals such as gold and silver. Copper has many other uses.



Mineral collection

The best way to learn about minerals is to study with a collection of small specimens that you can handle, examine, and observe their properties. Inexpensive mineral collections are available in the Geology.com Store.

Physical Properties of Copper

Chemical Classification Native element
Color Copper red on a fresh surface, dull brown on a tarnished surface
Streak Metallic copper red
Luster Metallic
Diaphaneity Opaque
Cleavage None
Mohs Hardness 2.5 to 3
Specific Gravity 8.9
Diagnostic Properties Color, luster, specific gravity, malleability, ductility
Chemical Composition Copper, Cu
Crystal System Isometric
Uses Conducts electricity and heat; wiring, electrical contacts and circuits; coinage, alloys


More Minerals
  Diamond
  Mineral collectors
  Calcite
  Rock, Mineral and Fossil Collections.
  Topaz
  The Science of Fireworks
  Quartz
  Mineral Identification Chart

geology store

More From Geology.com:


Don't Go To Jail
Know the Rules before removing rocks, fossils or minerals from public or private property.
Green Gemstones
Green Gemstones - emerald, peridot, jade, tsavorite, chrome diopside, chrysoprase, and more.
Azurite
Azurite - Used as an ore of copper, a pigment, ornamental stone and gem material.
rocks
Rock Gallery: Photos of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.
Minerals
Minerals: Information about ore minerals, gem materials and rock-forming minerals.
Chrome Diopside
Diopside - Gem material, ornamental stone, diamond indicator, industrial mineral
Zircon
Zircon is a popular and colorful gem with fire and brightness that rival diamond.
Triboluminescence
Triboluminescence is a flash produced when a mineral is rubbed, scratched or broken.