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Fact Sheet 2009–3031

USGS Mineral Resources Program

Copper—A Metal for the Ages

By Jeff Doebrich

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Copper was one of the first metals ever extracted and used by humans, and it has made vital contributions to sustaining and improving society since the dawn of civilization. Copper was first used in coins and ornaments starting about 8000 B.C., and at about 5500 B.C., copper tools helped civilization emerge from the Stone Age. The discovery that copper alloyed with tin produces bronze marked the beginning of the Bronze Age at about 3000 B.C. Copper is easily stretched, molded, and shaped; is resistant to corrosion; and conducts heat and electricity efficiently. As a result, copper was important to early humans and continues to be a material of choice for a variety of domestic, industrial, and high-technology applications today.

First posted June 5, 2009

For additional information contact:
Mineral Resources Program Coordinator
U.S. Geological Survey
MS 913, National Center
Reston, Virginia 20192

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Suggested citation:

Doebrich, Jeff, 2009, Copper–A Metal for the Ages: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009-3031, 4 p., available at

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