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Copper in health
Mining metals
Metals are often found as compounds in ores. An ore is a rock or mineral that has enough metal in it to make it worth extracting. In the case of copper, it is worth extracting when there is about 2 kg of copper per 1000 kg of ore.

Pie chart graphic
Picture 1. Pie chart of global locations of copper mining.
Mining copper
About 200 years ago the UK was an important world source of copper and there were mines in Cornwall and Wales. These mines have now closed and today the biggest copper mines are in Chile and North America. These produce many thousands of tonnes of copper ore per year.

The main ores of copper are:

  • chalcopyrite
  • bornite
  • malachite.

The ores are extracted by either traditional mining (open pit or underground) or by leaching. The copper is then recovered using physical and chemical techniques.

In this electronic resource, we'll look at the ways in which copper is mined and recovered from its ores.

Pie chart
Picture 2. Chalcopyrite a copper ore.
This e-source has 5 pages:
  1. Introduction
  2. What are the stages?
  3. From ore to copper
  4. Chemical reactions
  5. Electrolysis

Using these e-sources
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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