Copper has been used by our ancestors throughout time dating back at least 10,000 years making copper the oldest metal. One of the oldest copper ornaments was found in northern Iraq dating back about 8700 years. Copper smelting techniques were used in Egypt, Iran, Jordan and Israel over 4500 years ago to name a few and in china over 2500 years ago. Ancient Koreans also used copper in their society. Strictly speaking civilizations all around the world and through out time have used copper Dating back to before the stone age. Makes you think doesn’t it.
Copper has been used throughout time for a multitude of applications ranging from tools to jewelry to I pods. In ancient times copper was used for coins dating back some 7500-8000 years and is still used for coins today. Copper has been used for decorative art, painting canvas’, ornaments, and was even used in the dead sea scroll found in Qumran in 1952. Fast forward to today and copper is used in almost every aspect of our lives most notable are plumbing, electrical wire, and consumer electronics. However I doubt you could name an industry that doesn’t use copper in some manner.
It is estimated that the demand for copper will continue to outstrip supply until at least the end of 2013 when new supply is expected to come online. Global copper consumption for 2012 is expected to hit 19.72 million metric tonnes. That’s roughly 43,384,000,000 pounds. And Global production is expected to hit 19.08 million metric tonnes or 41,976,000,000 pounds. Leaving a shortage of roughly .64 million metric tonnes or 640,000 metric tonnes or 1,408,000,000 pounds.
If my math is correct. No guarantees. Now these are estimates. Estimates based on European demand, American demand, Brazilian demand etc. These numbers could easily be wrong if lets say Europe really takes a hard landing and the euro zone starts to unravel. Its not likely but it is a possibility. If the USA starts to fall apart, again not likely, or if lets say the US dollar loses its spot as the worlds reserve currency. Who knows what might happen under those circumstances. However if the world doesn’t fall apart than copper has a pretty rosy outlook for at least the next 18 months.
Recycling copper in today’s society couldn’t be any more important. Without the stream of recycled copper, we would rely solely on mined copper. Mining new copper uses about 10 times more energy than recycled copper does. Copper can be recycled over and over almost infinitely. By recycling base metals and other recyclable materials eg plastic, oil, and chemicals we reduce the amount of pollution going in to our air and water. We waste less energy and valuable resources. And we help to create a future that is sustainable for our children’s children.
Today almost everything can be recycled, composted or otherwise reused in some manner. We as a society need to make the switch from being wasteful, to becoming efficient and conscious members of the community.