Copper was one of the earliest metals encountered by mankind, discovered thousands of years ago, and some of its characteristics such as being malleable and a good transmitter of heat and electricity means it continues to play an instrumental role in our everyday lives. It is the third most widely used metal in the world after steel and aluminium. Originally used for most metal applications from jewellery and decorative items, to cookware and tools in the form of bronze (an alloy of copper and tin), it is used in a myriad of ways today: in housing, transportation (hybrid vehicles), electrical consumer goods (mobile phones, tablets) to name a few.
Redstone Commodity Search is connected to many of the major players, movers and shakers in this critical metals market and is working with brokers, traders and producers, helping them with their human capital requirements (more about us).
Redstone Commodity Search has worked on recruitment projects within the global copper industry. Recent projects include:
- Copper Traffic Manager, Switzerland
- Head of Office for a Metal Producer, Hong Kong
- Copper Primary Products Trader, Netherlands
- Derivative Trader (Copper focused), United States
- Plant Manager for a Copper Smelter, Africa
- Copper Trader, Switzerland
- Copper and Zinc Concentrates Trader, Venezuela
What is Copper?
Copper is a metallic element found in ore deposits around the world, the main copper ores being chalcopyrite, bornite and malachite. Ore is extracted either through mining (open pit or underground), or leaching. To make it commercially valuable, the ore is ground and the valuable elements are separated from the unwanted material through froth flotation. The copper concentrate is then roasted, to remove sulphur and dry the ore, and then smelted.
Following smelting, the copper content increases to more than 50% which is not yet commercially pure enough. Copper from the smelter is melted and cast into anodes for electro-refining which forms 99.99% pure copper cathodes. Copper cathodes are the raw material input for further copper processing into the downstream products which feature in our daily lives. The cathodes are cast into different shapes such as cakes, ingots, rods and billets based on the end usage before being sold to semi-finished fabricators like brass mills or wire rod plants.
How is It Traded?
Geographically, unlike other basic metals, copper mines are highly concentrated. Half of the global copper mines are located in Latin America; Chile has the largest reserves of the metal by far, followed by Peru and Mexico, with Australia also holding a spot among the countries with the largest copper deposits. On the mining side, Chile, China, Peru, the US and the Democratic Republic of Congo produce the most copper. China has the sixth biggest global reserves and is the second largest copper miner.
More than half of the worlds copper is consumed in Asia. With China being a global manufacturing hub as well as the biggest smelter in the world, China alone consumes approximately 42% of the global copper share, the US uses 28% while the third largest consumer, Germany, uses 6%. However, China does not have sufficient copper reserves to meet demand so imports raw copper for their smelters and refining plants. Demand in Asia is a key driver of the global copper trade.
In the derivatives market, copper is primarily traded as futures contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and London Metal Exchange (LME) but options contracts are also available.
Which Industries Use Copper?
- Electrical (wiring, appliances, consumer electronics)
- Construction (piping for water, irrigation systems, fuel gas piping); decorative architectural hardware (hinges, handles, locks, lighting and bathroom fixtures)
- Power infrastructure (cables, wires)
- Transport/Automotive (radiators in vehicles, oil coolers, anti-lock braking systems, wiring for window controls etc., components for hybrid vehicles, overhead wires for trams, boat propellers)
- Other uses: cookware and thermal applications; clocks and watches; art; coinage; musical instruments