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Facts about copper

Download the copper fact sheets to learn more about this versatile metal. Find out about the properties of copper, how and why it is mined, and how it has come to shape the world of today.

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What is copper?

Copper is essential to life and our modern society. Evidence suggests that copper was one of the first metals used by humans. Copper is an excellent conductor of electricity which is why it is used in a broad range of everyday household products and is essential to helping develop nations. It's also corrosion resistant and antimicrobial, meaning it prevents the growth of bacteria.

 

Copper facts

 

   

The average Australian home contains 90kg of copper – in the wiring, pipes and appliances.

  Almost all copper products can be recycled – it is one of the most recycled metals in the world.
 

Copper can be mixed with other metals like zinc, aluminium and tin to form alloys. 

 

 Copper occurs naturally in human, animals and plants. It is a vital nutrient to maintaining good health.
   Electric vehicles use four times as much copper as petrol-based cars.

 

Where is copper used?

 

Construction, both residential and industrial.

Infrastructure like power grids and traffic lights.

Transportation, including cars, aircraft and trains.

Household consumer products like air conditioners, refrigerators, TVs and microwaves.

Smartphones which typically contain 15-20g of copper.

 

Power sector for use in distribution lines, generators and transformers.

 

BHP Copper facts

 

In 2019 we produced 1,689kt of copper. This is enough to make over 420,000 wind turbines.  
By 2027, copper demand stemming from Electric Vehicles is expected to increase by 1.7 million tonnes.  
We are expanding our mine at Spence, extending its life for another 50 years.  
We are looking for more copper from all over the world. We recently discovered Oak Dam, 65kms from Olympic Dam, in South Australia.
 

Ways to mine copper

In Chile because the copper is relatively close to the surface we have an open-cut mine. In South Australia we mine underground because of the location of the Olympic Dam ore-body.

Why does BHP mine copper?

We believe that demand for copper will grow due to grade declines at existing copper mines, the radical urbanisation of large populations in China and India and the electrification of energy and transportation. The rise of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar require copper for their infrastructure.

How we mine at Escondida

How we mine at Olympic Dam

 

Where is copper found?

Copper can be found all over the world.


BHP owns and operates several copper mines in Chile and one in South Australia.


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