• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The chemistry of copper - how it is extracted and purified.

Extracts from this document...


The chemistry of Copper Copper is a chemical element which has the symbol 'Cu' and its atomic number is 29. It is a ductile metal that conducts a lot of electricity. It is used as a thermal conductor, an electrical conductor and as a building material. It is also alloyed with a variety of different metals, like brass or bronze. Pure copper is relatively soft, and when cut freshly has a pinkish or peachy colour. How is copper extracted from its ore? Traditional mining underground Copper-bearing rock is located in the Earth's crust. It is then blasted from underground to the surface of the Earth. The broken rocks are then collected by front-end loaders. Next they are transported in large trucks to underground crushers. Miners then sink a vertical shaft into the Earth to an appropriate depth and drive horizontal tunnels into the ore to crush them. ...read more.


Some of the ores that are mined are cuprite, Bornite, Malachite, Azurite, Tennantite, How much is left? Copper ore deposits will become scarce in a relatively short time, but the copper which has been extracted can be recycled fully. Copper is regarded as one of the few metals that are 'fully sustainable'. Which countries control the supply of copper? Highest copper outputs in the world: 1. Chile 2. USA 3. Peru 4. Indonesia What is meant by low-grade ores and why are they becoming more important? A low grade ore is an ore that doesn't contain a very high proportion of valuable minerals. Low-grade ores are less valuable than higher-grade ones but are more abundant. They are becoming more important because they are cheap and high-grade ores are running out and becoming more 'exhausted' so it is important to obtain copper from sources like low grade ores as well as high grade ores. ...read more.


The pure copper cathode increases greatly in size, while the anode becomes smaller because the particles move towards the cathode made of pure copper. The impurities left behind are gold, silver, platinum and tin which are insoluble in this solution so they form a valuable 'sludge' or layer that collects under the anodes. This entire process is known as electrolytic refining. Even the best chemical method it is not possible to remove all the impurities from the copper, but with electrolytic refining it is possible to produce 99.99% pure copper. Why is it important to recycle copper? There are only 25-60 years of copper supply left, so if we recycle copper we can continue to use it otherwise there will be no copper available for in the future which will be a difficult material to live without. It is cheaper to recycle copper than extract new copper. Landfill sites are beginning to fill up and it's expensive to get rid of it so recycling copper is better. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Changing Materials - The Earth and its Atmosphere section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a star student thought of this essay

3 star(s)

Response to the question

The response is concise and covers the main point of copper extraction. The introduction gives the basic information that you need to read the rest of the essay. This is a good skill to use anywhere as it shows that ...

Read full review

Response to the question

The response is concise and covers the main point of copper extraction. The introduction gives the basic information that you need to read the rest of the essay. This is a good skill to use anywhere as it shows that you have a wider understanding about the subject. In some places the response could have been more explicit as it left me wondering what actually the correct term would be for example 'special chemicals'.

Level of analysis

The first method of underground mining I felt was somewhat simplified with some room for explanation, it is always essential to explain anything you write down to the full extent of your knowledge as this will allow you to get as many marks as possible. As the essay progresses the quality of analysis increases, with more facts and informative descriptions given. The description about electrolysis is good for GCSE. Maybe more of the key terms used could be explained as it would had gained the student a few more marks as it shows a fuller understanding of the subject. The section on recycling could be more explicit as it seemed to be a little rushed.

Quality of writing

The grammatical and spelling side of the essay is fine. But the scientific language could use some work. Whenever writing for a scientific purpose you should try and use the appropriate language as it again shows your knowledge and understanding of the subject.

Did you find this review helpful? Join our team of reviewers and help other students learn

Reviewed by cheekymokeyxxx 30/06/2012

Read less
Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Changing Materials - The Earth and its Atmosphere essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    What is a metal ore?

    4 star(s)

    and are held together by delocalised electrons. Metals can be visualized more or less like billiard balls arranged in order, which is why they can move across each other and that is why the metal can deform. Carbon is important in the extraction of iron.

  2. The aim of this experiment is to determine the order of the reactivity series ...

    Also metals at the top of the reactivity series have stable atoms. As the carbonate is heated it will longer for carbon dioxide to be given off, because the bond the Magnesium has with it carbonate is very strong. Magnesium will give off the least amount of carbon dioxide.

  1. Investigate the factors that affect the mass of Copper deposited on the Copper Cathode ...

    and steady current and an analogue ammeter which meant I could easily read the current. I also did the experiment in the uniform conditions of a laboratory and kept all the variables the same during the experiment. However, there were certain errors and inaccuracies I encounterd and improvements I could make to my method.

  2. Investigating displacement reactions to find out the order of reactivity of some metals.

    = Specific heat x mass x temp capacity of the of the change solution solution Q/J C/J g-1k-1 m/g T/K Q = 4.18J cm-3 k-1 x Volume cm3 x temp change/K MAGNESIUM Q = 4.18J cm-3 k-1 x 20 cm3 x 61.6 = 5149.76 ZINC = 1.43g Q = 4.18J

  1. Importance of electrolysis in our daily lives

    When the aluminum oxide is melted the compound dissociates into its corresponding ions, and . This is where the electrolysis comes in.

  2. Thermal Decomposition Of Metal Carbonates

    higher up have a tight hold on their carbonates, meaning it will take a longer time to break their bonds. When these metals are thermally decomposed it happens very slowly. The metals at the bottom of the reactivity series have loose bonds with their carbonates.

  1. I am investigating which supermarkets have the strongest plastic bags; I have tested this ...

    but the third time must have been an anomalous result as the difference between the first time I did it and third was 5.7kg which is a big difference. The Somerfield bags were mostly all the same on the three times I did the test.

  2. Extraction of metals and Alloys.

    Extraction of Aluminium Aluminium is the third most abundant (plentiful) element in the Earth's crust. It is more abundant and the more expensive to produce compared with iron. This is because it takes a lot of electricity for the extraction process of electrolysis to happen.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work