Study: Climate Affects Copper Deposits

By @vitthernandez on
An aerial view of open pits of CODELCO's Andina (L) and Anglo American's Los Bronces copper mines with Olivares glaciers in the background (top L) at Los Andes Mountain range, near Santiago city, November 17, 2014.
IN PHOTO: An aerial view of open pits of CODELCO's Andina (L) and Anglo American's Los Bronces copper mines with Olivares glaciers in the background (top L) at Los Andes Mountain range, near Santiago city, November 17, 2014. The rock glaciers of the Chilean central zone, a huge source of water for the basins of the capital, are said to be threatened by the environmental impacts of hydroelectric and mining projects, according to environmental activists Greenpeace. Picture taken November 17, 2014. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

Climate has a strong impact on copper resources, according to a new research by the University of Idaho and the University of Michigan. Data showed that areas with high erosion rates have less copper deposits than areas which experience relatively low number of erosion cases.

The study, published in Nature Geoscience, suggests that “climate is driving erosion and mineral exposure in deposit-bearing mountain landscapes.” “This effect persists over very long periods of Earth’s history,” said Stephen Kesler, an emeritus professor from the University of Michigan’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

“It’s exciting to think that erosion and the building of our mountain landscapes influences where society gets its resources from,” added Brian Yanites, an assistant professor in University of Idaho’s Geological Sciences. Kesler and Yanites spearheaded the research titled “A Climate Signal in Exhumation Patterns Revealed by Porphyry Copper Deposits.”

Copper was one of the first metals to be mined with its use dating back during the Bronze Age. Copper is used as an electrical and heat conductor. It is utilised in electrical generators and motors, electrical power and lighting fixtures, electrical wiring, radio and television sets and computers, among others. It is also used in air conditioning and refrigeration units, motor vehicle radiators and home heating systems. Construction companies are also big consumers of copper.

Copper also possesses antimicrobial properties. Chemical industries use it for medical and agricultural disease control.

Copper resources are estimated at 5.8 trillion pounds but because it is one of the most reusable metal, only 12 percent of it has actually been mined, according to Copper.org. Its consumption worldwide is said to be at 22 million metric tons, also matching the global copper demand.

However, since this base metal can be recycled, production of refined secondary copper is at 3.6 million metric tonnes. Kitco reported that global market production is said to generate revenues of over US$150 billion annually.  

Chile is said to be the world's largest copper producing country and boasts of the largest copper mines in the world. There are also large copper mines in Peru, Mexico and Indonesia.

Russia is one of the world’s leading mineral industries, known to produce a wide array of minerals such as aluminum, cement, copper, nitrogen and magnesium compounds, and metals. Russia’s largest nickel company, Norilsk Nickel, owns an estimated 45 percent of the world’s nickel market.

Meanwhile, another company in Russia has emerged. Amur Minerals Corporation (London AIM:AMC) has discovered a large quantity of sulphide nickel in the Far East of Russia. The mineral exploration and development company owns the Kun-Manie sulphide nickel-copper project located in Amur Oblast.

To contact the writer, email: vittoriohernandez@yahoo.com

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