Copper is a pliable metal with high thermal and electrical conductivity capabilities. It can be identified on the periodic table of elements as Cu and as atomic number 29. Copper and its alloys have been used for thousands of years for various purposes.
Copper is a reddish colored metal that polishes to a bright shine, of which HowStuffWorks says, makes it one of the most useful metals, like iron. While it does not rust, exposure to moisture results in a green patina. Its uses range from jewelry making to plumbing.
Copper is second only to silver in its ability to conduct electricity. This makes it a valuable metal in the electronics industry, where it finds its greatest use.
Zinc alloys with copper are bronze, and tin alloys are brass. In addition, some copper alloys have importance in the biomedical field as they are antimicrobial.
Copper forms compounds with many other elements. These compounds are poisonous to invertebrates and thus used as algaecides and pesticides. While overexposure is sometimes toxic to plants and higher animal life, copper compounds are also essential nutrients. In humans, the liver is 0.00003 percent copper.
While miners often remove copper from the Earth in the form of minerals, it sometime appears in the elemental form. About.com reports, that North America, South America and Africa all have ore deposits. Refineries use smelting, leaching and electrolysis of ores to prepare commercially available copper, some as pure as 99.999+ percent.