Copper is a very special metal for industrial applications and has been mined for centuries. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is rather soft and malleable, and a freshly-exposed surface has a pinkish or peachy color. It is used as a thermal conductor, an electrical conductor, a building material, and a constituent of various metal alloys.Other copper minerals are far more economical to mine and purify into metallic copper that is used for wiring, electrical components, pennies and other coins, tubing and many other applications.Copper metal and alloys products have been used for thousands of years.
Copper owing to its properties such as electrical conductivity, corrosion resistance, ductility, malleability and rigidity finds wide applications in various fields. Specific applications of copper include power cables and wires, jelly filled cables, building wires, air conditioning and refrigeration tubings in telecom, power, construction, transportation, handicrafts, engineering, consumer durable, defence. The electrical industry claims a share of about 26%. The electronics and communications take another 30% share. With building construction (9%) and transportation (8%) added, the cumulative rises to about three-fourths. The other consuming sectors are engineering process and general (9%) and consumer durables (6%). Defence is also a substantial user. Another important consumer is handicrafts which are reported to consume close to 12% of copper in India. Apart from the primary copper production, scrap copper supply is placed at around 170,000 TPA. This is made up of defence cartridge brass scrap (17%); scrap from forging, fabrication, redrawing and machining (31%); old winding scrap (13%); copper cable scrap from electricity and telephone sector (12%); and cable units (9%).
The Indian copper industry comprises 3% on the world copper map. The unorganized sector players are also likely to contribute, however, about 1.5 – 2 lakh tonnes, thus; taking the total production of beyond one million tonnes towards the end of the current fiscal year. Major of LME-grade copper produced by the private sector majors is exported. HCL, however, has been dominating in the domestic market. SIIL, a part of Vedanta Resources, a London listed $3 billion, pioneered the manufacturing of continuous cast copper rods in India and established India’s largest copper smelting and refining plant for production of world class refined copper. India’s copper demand will likely grow by at least 7% in financial year 2010-11, fed by power sector, while demand from real estate and construction remains weak, according to industry analyst. In India the users segment such as winding wire, power cables, transformers industry and continued increased export of downstream products supporting higher demand.
Sterlite Industries, Hindalco and Hindustan Copper are the top three producers of the metal in the domestic market.