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Copper processing, the extraction of copper from its ores and the preparation of copper metal or chemical compounds for use in various products. In its pure form or as an alloy, copper (Cu) is one of the most important metals in society. The pure metal has a face-centred cubic crystal structure, and
Copper and copper-based products are also used in appliances, decorative brassware and locks and keys. Compounds of copper serve as fungicides, wood preservatives, copper plating, pigments, electronic applications and specialized chemicals. New and innovative applications for the metal are continually being discovered and include
After this stage the enriched ore now contains about 25% copper by mass and is called copper concentrate. It is valuable enough to ship to other plants and other countries for processing. For example China, Germany and Japan are major copper producers that use concentrate from around the world.
At a few Australian mines, copper is leached from a copper oxide ore to produce a copper-rich solution that is then treated by solvent extraction and electrowinning to recover the copper metal. At most Australian mines the traditional method used involves copper sulphide ore being ground finely before the copper-bearing sulphide minerals
Although large copper deposits are mined by open-cut methods in many of the major producing countries, most of the copper ore produced in Australia comes from underground mines. At some Australian mines, the copper is leached from the ore to produce a copper-rich solution which is later treated to recover the copper metal. At