Visualcapitalist.com has produced many interesting mining infographics in the past. This time, they’ve developed a two part infographic about the history of copper and current trends in supply an demand.

The first infographic, which describes the history of copper and the metal’s unique attributes, contained some surprising facts. For example, copper is one of only three elemental metals in existence (along with gold and osmium) that has a color other than silver or grey in its pure form. Copper was also one of the first metals to be used by humans.

Copper is clearly an important metal to modern society. The fact that 80% of all copper ever mined remains in use through recycling is a testament to the value of this metal. Other evidence for the value of copper is the recent global increase in the theft of copper from homes,  businesses, and electrical systems.

Why is copper so valuable? What attributes make it so useful?

First of all, and most importantly, the ability of copper to conduct electricity and thermal energy is surpassed only by silver, which is one hundred times more expensive than copper. This means that copper is the metal of choice for electrical wiring and circuitry. Copper is also very resistant to corrosion, making it an ideal material for roofing and plumbing applications – according to the infographic, the average home contains about 200 kg of copper. That’s worth over 1,400 dollars!

The second inforgraphic goes on to describe the current economic status of copper.

The major story in the past decade has been a sharp (4x) increase in the price of copper. This increase has resulted from a combination of factors. As the easy ore deposits have been mined, the yield of copper ore has decreased, increasing production costs. At the same time, demand from developing countries, especially China, has been skyrocketing. By 2016, its estimated that China will account for more than a third of global copper consumption. This copper will be used to develop the infrastructure required to support a growing middle class in an increasingly urban environment.

In the end, the creator of the infographic predicts that exploration for copper will accelerate in the coming years to account for this increasing demand.

For a compilation of the latest news articles pertaining to copper, check out the following sources:

Breaking news related to copper

News about the use of copper in science and tech

Don’t forget to check out our earlier article on the world’s largest copper mining projects.