Copper 101—Copper Facts

  1. Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu. Atomic Number: 29. Atomic Weight: 63.546 amu (atomic mass unit).
  2. Copper comes from the Latin word cuprum, meaning “from the island of Cyprus.”
  3. Copper is man’s oldest metal, dating back more than 10,000 years. A copper pendant discovered in what is now northern Iraq has been dated to about 8,700 B.C.
  4. The Egyptians used the ankh symbol to denote copper in their system of hieroglyphs. It also represented eternal life.
  5. Copper is one of the oldest metals known to civilization. Its uses and contributions continue to grow.
  6. Copper is a vital and positive contributor to humankind and has improved our quality of life for centuries.
  7. Copper is the only metal other than gold that has natural color. Other metals are either gray or white.
  8. Over 400 copper alloys are in use today. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, aluminum, silicon, and beryllium.
  9. Copper is vital to the health of humans, animals and plants and an essential part of the human diet. Copper-rich foods include dried beans, almonds, broccoli, chocolate, garlic, soybeans, peas, whole wheat products, and seafood.
  10. Copper maximizes the performance of the products that contain it, helping save energy, CO2, money and lives.

Want to know more about copper? The World Copper Fact Book prepared by our partner, International Copper Study Group (ICSG), provides additional information.

Additional resources include:

60 Centuries of Copper: Intended for the reader who is interested in the general history of copper mining, the development of metal-working processes and the uses of copper through the past six thousand years. Based on Sixty Centuries of Copper by B Webster Smith which was published by the UK Copper Development Association in 1965.

The History of Copper in the U.S. covers the history of copper production and consumption throughout American history to present day.