Copper occurs naturally in the Earth’s crust in a variety of forms.
It can be found in sulfide deposits (chalcopyrite, bornite), in transition sulphite deposits (chalcocite, covellite), in carbonate deposits (as azurite and malachite), in silicate deposits (as chrysocolla and dioptase) and as pure ‘native’ copper.
Pure copper metal is generally produced from a multistage process, beginning with the mining and concentrating of low-grade ores containing copper minerals, and followed by smelting and electrolytic refining to produce a pure copper cathode. An increasing share of copper is produced from acid leaching of oxidized ores.
Copper is one of the oldest metals ever used and has been one of the important materials in the development of civilization. Because of its high ductility, malleability, and thermal and electrical conductivity, and its resistance to corrosion, copper has become a major industrial metal, ranking third after iron and aluminum in terms of quantities consumed.
Electrical uses of copper, including power transmission and generation, building wiring, electrical and electronic products and telecommunications account for about 75% of total copper use. Building construction is the single largest market, followed by electronics and electronic products, transportation, industrial machinery, and consumer and general products. Copper byproducts from manufacturing and obsolete copper products are readily recycled and contribute significantly to supply.
Aluminum substitutes for copper in power cables, electrical equipment, automobile radiators, and cooling and refrigeration tube; titanium and steel are used in heat exchangers; optical fiber substitutes for copper in telecommunications applications; and plastics substitute for copper in water pipe, drain pipe, and plumbing fixtures. However the unique properties of copper mean that it remains the preferred metal in power transmission and generation, building wiring, telecommunication, and electrical and electronic products.
Copper is one of the most recycled of all metals and can be recycled over and over again without losing its special properties. Recycled copper (known as secondary copper) cannot be distinguished from primary copper.
With the onset of the global economic crisis, the London Metal Exchange Ltd. (LME) price, which had averaged $3.65 per pound of copper during the first 9 months of 2008, fell sharply to an average of only $1.45 per pound in December 2008. Prices have since trended upward as supplies remain tight and demand rebounded.
The global demand for copper continues to grow: world refined usage has surged by around 300% in the last 50 years due to expansion in industries such as electrical and electronic products, building construction, industrial machinery and equipment, transportation equipment, and consumer and general products.
The price of copper is volatile as demand and supply are not overly sensitive to price changes in the short run.
Archer has a large and varied copper prospect portfolio including IOCG targets, breccia hosted copper, lode copper, and structurally emplaced copper targets that present the Company with exciting exploration targets.