Copper mine workers at NFC Africa Mining shaft in Chimbishi. Photo credit: Christian Aid/David Rose
Conned for her copper: Zambia pays the price for aid
29th September, 2009
Copper underwires the modern world, running through everything from the gas guzzler to the wind turbine. Any country that finds substantial reserves of the metal ought to consider itself to have struck gold. That is, until you let the World Bank decide how your mines should be run…
Weight for weight, copper is one of the most valuable resources in the high-tech world. 75-80 per cent of copper is recycled – one of the highest recycling rates for any metal, and a process that uses just 15 per cent of the energy and materials required to mine fresh ore.
According to Professor Ronnie Belmans at the University of Leuven, Belgium, the efficient use of one tonne of copper in the energy sector can save up to 200 tonnes of CO2 per annum.
Copper itself is known as ‘the green resource’ not simply for its oxidized colour: it is indispensable in renewable energy technologies. It is one of several key components used in what have been touted as the world’s most economically viable solar panels: copper-indium-gallium-selenide panels (CIGS).
Meanwhile, the generator inside a 5MW wind turbine requires 3.4 tonnes of copper in order to convert wind energy into electricity. Despite the march of fibre optics,...
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