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Seven thousand years in the service of humanity--the history of copper, the red metal

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  • Radetzki, Marian
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    Abstract

    Measured by weight, copper is the third most important metal used by man. The annual value of its 2007 output was on a par with the GDP of e.g. Ukraine. Copper is also one of the oldest metals, its employment going back 7000 years. For millennia, it was predominantly employed for decorative purposes, coinage and in warfare. Technical breakthroughs in antiquity, like smelting and alloying, expanded its production and enhanced its utility. Copper's true heyday occurred after 1850, with the usage of electricity. In the period since then, volumes increased 300-fold, while costs and prices declined. With impressive progress in the technology of its production and consumption, the red metal has been able to hold its own, despite the emergence over history of formidable substitutes like iron, aluminum, plastics and optic fiber.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Resources Policy.

    Volume (Year): 34 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 4 (December)
    Pages: 176-184

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jrpoli:v:34:y:2009:i:4:p:176-184

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/30467

    Related research

    Keywords: Copper in antiquity Copper in modern uses Long-run trends in production Consumption and prices Main copper substitutes in history;

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    Cited by:
    1. Stuermer, Martin, 2013. "150 Years of Boom and Bust: What Drives Mineral Commodity Prices?," MPRA Paper 51859, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Bruno Lanz & Thomas F. Rutherford & John E. Tilton, 2013. "Subglobal climate agreements and energy-intensive activities: An evaluation of carbon leakage in the copper industry," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 13/174, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    3. Martin Stuermer & Gregor Schwerhoff, 2013. "Technological change in resource extraction and endogenous growth," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse12_2013, University of Bonn, Germany.

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