Copper and our sustainable future

Copper was the first metal manipulated by humans, and it remains an important metal in industry today (Pappas, 2018). It can be found naturally in pure metallic form; therefore, it was relatively easy for ancient humans with their primitive tools to extract and use copper without the need for complicated techniques and technology that was developed later by mankind.

Humans have been making things from copper for at least 8,000 years and figured out how to smelt the metal by about 4500 B.C. Copper was an essential element that helped mankind evolution.

It played a central role in mankind’s transitioning from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age, a period covering approximately 3300 to 1200 B.C, as ancient people learned to mix copper with tin to create bronze. The Bronze age is distinguished by historians as the period when for the first time humans started to work with metal and to use bronze tools and weapons.

As copper is a good conductor of electricity as well as being ductile, it was extremely important in the industrial revolution. Copper was the first metal traded on the London Metal Exchange (LME) when it was founded in 1877. Due to its widespread use in industry, copper is viewed as being closely connected to macroeconomic events – so much so that some say ‘Dr Copper’ has a PhD in economics.