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Copper in health
Photo of mobile phone
Picture 1. A mobile phone contains up to 4g of copper.
Why produce copper?
It's hard to imagine a world without copper. We rely on copper for power, lighting, heating, communications, water supply and transport. Copper makes our homes, schools and businesses efficient, comfortable and decorative and it lasts for many years.

Every year, the world demand for copper is about 15 million tonnes. In 2002, the average price for copper was £1000 per tonne. However, the price can go up and down on a daily basis.

Copper has a remarkable combination of properties. It is a good electrical and thermal conductor. It is ductile and it can prevent bacterial growth (see properties).

As with all world resources, the supply of copper from the ground is limited. Ever since copper was first mined, it has been recycled. Today, 40% of the need is met by recycled copper - conserving the earth's resources.

Copper is very well suited to being recycled because it can be re-melted endlessly with no loss of properties. For example, old copper plumbing pipes, taps and car radiators are a major source of recycled copper. They can all be melted down and made into new products. In the future, even the few grammes of copper in your mobile phone will be worth recovering.

In this electronic resource (e-source), we'll look at the ways that we get copper from the ground and from recycling.

This e-source has 4 pages:
  1. Introduction
  2. Where does it come from?
  3. Extracting copper
  4. Recycling
  5. How much is left?

Using this e-source
There are a number of interactive features in this e-source:

A glossary of terms: any word with a glossary entry is highlighted. Clicking on the word will open a new window with a definition of that word.

Quick questions: at the end of each page is a quick question to test your understanding of that page. Type in your own answer then click on the button to see how well you did.

Quiz: at the end of each unit, there is a quick quiz to see how well you understand the ideas.

Roll over diagrams: many of the diagrams have highlights or sequences. You can see these by rolling your cursor over part of the picture or part of the text. The text has a roll over highlight.

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