The raw materials for our industry are copper and alloying metals such as zinc. Copper ores are mined in several countries, the principal ones being Chile, USA, Indonesia, Canada, Peru, Russia, Poland, China, Kazakhstan and Mexico. After the metal has been produced by refining it is sold into the fabricating industry.

A key aspect of the copper industry is its use of recycled metal. Scrap metal arising during processing and manufacture of products is all re-used. In addition, almost all copper in current use is capable of being used again at the end of the life of the application. A sophisticated recycling industry ensures its return either directly into the fabricating industry for remelting or into the refining sector for reprocessing. This ensures the optimum use of raw materials and is a vital contribution to a clean environment.

Because of the importance of the raw material supply chain the IWCC has always had close links with the copper mining and refining industries.

The copper fabricating industry processes copper by extrusion, rolling and drawing. These processes have been developed to make the best use of copper's capabilities to be formed into a wide variety of shapes and products. Modern sophisticated technology ensures products of the highest quality and consistency. Typical applications include:

 

  • Power, telecommunications and data cables

  • Electrical and electronic connectors

  • Lead frames for use in computers

  • Wiring harnesses for automobiles

  • Windings for electric motors

  • Plumbing and domestic water services including pipes, taps and valves

  • Roofing and other architectural features

  • Air conditioners

  • Coinage

 

Some products, such as copper plumbing tube, are used as produced by our industry without further working. Others undergo further transformation by downstream industries to produce the finished product or component for final assembly. For example, brass rod is used by the forging and machining industries to produce a wide variety of finished components such as valves, water fittings and fasteners. Copper and copper alloy strip may be pressed or formed into roofing systems and guttering, decorative items and coinage, such as the Euro. Although our industry makes a number of standard type products, it is increasingly providing solutions to customer requirements for more sophisticated products and systems. The unique combination of properties offered by copper and copper alloys - conductivity, longevity, malleability, strength, corrosion resistance, and aesthetic appeal - make the products of our industry the material of choice in a vast range of uses. Copper is a universal product for the 21st century.

For these reasons our industry looks forward to steady growth in the more mature economies and to increasingly exciting prospects in those which are emerging.