As we saw in class, copper can be fairly easily extracted from malachite. The process involves crushing the malachite in order to increase its surface area and then mixing it with sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid and malachite create a solution composed of water, copper sulfate and carbonic acid. Steel is then added to the solution and the copper sulfate turns into native copper which collects on the steel.
In the United States, copper mining has always been a profitable industry. This is especially true for Arizona which accounts for two thirds of the nation’s copper production (Dom). Copper mines supply Arizona with approximately 20% of its GDP and with the rising value of copper; this percentage is steadily increasing (OPUS). Currently, half of Arizona’s copper is mined at the Morenci mine.
Copper has been a valuable metal for thousands of years and has many practical applications today. What makes copper so versatile is its malleability and its ability to conduct heat and electricity. Because of these characteristics, copper can be found in home plumbing and electric appliances. Within the last couple of decades, copper consumption on a global scale has increased dramatically.