Characteristics: Distinctive reddish color; ductile; excellent conductor of electricity. Complexing agent, coordination numbers 2 and 4. Dissolves readily in nitric and hot concentrated H2SO4; in HCl and dilute H2SO4 slowly but only when exposed to the atmosphere. More resistant to atmospheric corrosion than iron, forming a green layer of hydrated basic carbonate. Readily attacked by alkalies. A necessary trace element in human diet; a factor in plant metabolism. Essentially nontoxic in elemental form.
Derivation: With sulfide ores the steps may be (1) concentration (of low grade ores) by flotation and leaching, (2) roasting, (3) formation of copper “matte” (40-50% Cu), (4) reduction of matte to “blister” copper (96-98%), (5) electrolytic refining to 99.9+% copper.
Hazard: Inhalation of fumes may cause flu-like symptoms. Exposure limits: (fume) 0.1 mg/m3; (dusts and mists) 1 mg/m3.