The direct copper industry in Europe is made up of around 500 companies, has an estimated turnover of about €45 billion and employs around 50,000 people.
However, what is far more important is the breadth of industrial and service sector employment that is based on the added value achieved through the use of copper products (e.g. energy utilities, electricians, automotive companies, electronic equipment manufacturers, plumbers and roofers). These 'downstream' sectors employ several million people and represent a substantial part of Europe’s industrial base.
While the global economic situation remained relatively weak, in 2012, the world demand for copper was at a record high of around 25.5 million tonnes, made up of 20.5 million tonnes of refined metal production plus 5 million tonnes of direct-melt scrap. EU27 demand, impacted by the ongoing malaise in the construction sector, was estimated at around 4 million tonnes.
Used for its superior properties, such as having the best electrical and thermal conductivity of any commonly used metal, as well as its durability and antimicrobial properties, copper is a key material for innovation in a number of sectors including renewal energy supplies, energy efficiency, sustainable buildings, transport systems and healthcare.
EU27 copper demand (ECI 2012):
Use of refined copper within Europe (ECI, 2009)
To meet the modern world's increasing demand for copper, which has doubled in the last 25 years, it has been important to exploit copper’s ability to be 100% recycled, without any loss in performance. Throughout the last ten years, it is estimated that 41% of the EU27’s copper demand has been met through the recovery and recycling of value-chain offcuts, plus end-of-life products (Glöser, Simon; Soulier, Marcel; Tercero Espinoza, Luis A. (2013)).
Visit the Applications section to learn more about the benefits delivered by copper and copper alloy products across multiple end-uses.