Long term value in a precious metal
Why copper is a real investment in the future.
Copper is the most remarkable metal. It is not strictly a ‘precious’ metal of course, but its multiplicity of uses renders that distinction irrelevant. It’s much cheaper than gold but many times more useful, and it’s 100% recyclable without any loss of its properties. In fact, it is estimated that as much as 50% of Europe’s demand for copper (and 35% worldwide) is met from recycled sources, and that at least 60% of all copper ever produced is still in use.
Greening the world with copper
Although copper production can have a relatively high carbon footprint (it varies considerably depending on origin), its complete recyclability renders it carbon efficient in the long run. And once produced, copper alloys empower sustainable development.
Copper is already making a contribution to a low carbon future. It is essential for wind turbines, which use it in their ring generators, and it features significantly downstream, once the electricity is generated – electric cars, trains, and circuit boards all use copper to maximise efficiency and durability.
There are other uses which are less dramatic, but still important. Copper is second only to silver in its heat conductivity, so copper saucepans are prized possessions, and copper alloys are now the most common metals for coins. Despite the trend towards digital payment, many economies continue to rely on coinage and, because of its recyclability, copper features prominently.
Copper’s resistance to corrosion means it’s not only ideal for piping clean water, it is also used in the storage of nuclear waste. Copper is used in the superconductors in the Large Hadron Collider at CERNE, and more prosaically copper is still the favourite metal for electrical wiring. Copper coating on some surgeons’ scalpels aids conductivity, so the blade can be heated, cauterising as it is cuts and reducing bleeding.
Sourcing and recycling
For industrial applications, copper is generally considered to be third in importance only after steel and aluminium. And demand for copper and its alloys is expected to increase by 50% in the next 20 years, from 28 million tons per year to 42 million tons in 2040. Some estimates, citing growing use in sustainable industries and green technologies, puts demand showing a staggering tenfold increase by 2050.
Apart from copper wire for electrical use, which is made from the freshly milled metal, recycled copper therefore has real importance in the supply chain. Fortunately there are well described standards for recycled copper and copper alloys – there are international, European and domestic specifications governing purity of scrap and the final recycled product.
Ask an expert
As Europe produces approximately 45% of the world’s recycled copper, there is a good chance that recycled copper products bought in the UK are of European origin. If it comes from outside the EU, it will still be produced to recognised standards. And, of course, if you’re curious, your wholesaler will be able to confirm exactly what you’re getting – with a copper bottomed guarantee.
Data quoted in this article can be found at https://copperalliance.org/
Advanced Alloys Ltd is a specialist supplier of products made from the highest quality alloys of copper, brass, bronze and zinc. They have an exhaustive range of products suitable for all industries. Alloys can be delivered in wire, tube, sheet or bar form, and cut, bent or manipulated as required. An experienced logistics team makes sure that products reach their destination in perfect condition and on time every time.