Copper and Zinc smelting: Making the most of a finite resource


Utilised throughout a variety of applications in modern society, copper and zinc is a thriving, gases-intensive industry.

Copper and Zinc rank as third and fourth in the top four most commonly used metals today and like fossil fuels, they are a finite resource.

The Earth’s reserves of copper have been projected to last only another 60 years and zinc less than 50, but based on reasonable extrapolation of 2% growth per year, both may run out before 2035.

Copper metal has been used by mankind for at least 10,000 years and alloyed with tin to make brass as early as 1500 BC. Incredibly, more than 95% of all copper ever mined and smelted was extracted since 1900. Impure forms of zinc were smelted and extracted in India around 1200 AD.

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