Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Copper and the Arizona economy

When copper went over $4 a pound recently, it prompted Jeff McCormick, Regional Manager of the Arizona Department of Commerce, to circulate a short summary on copper and the Arizona economy. I thought it deserved broader distribution, and Jeff agreed to let us reprint it:

Over 60% of the newly-mined copper in the U.S. comes from Arizona. Over 20% of Arizona's gross regional domestic product is generated from the copper mining industry. When copper traded for an average of $3.30 / pound, copper production generated nearly $5 billion for Arizona's economy in 2006 and $5.5 billion in 2007. [right: open pit copper mine near Hayden AZ, @ Michael Collier]

With the steady increase in copper's value, the incentives to open new mines, increase production, and inject renewed sources of stable revenue into the state's economy are evident. 12 active copper mines in Arizona directly employ nearly 10,000 workers (not including contactors and sub-contractors). Half of Arizona's copper is mined in Morenci. An additional 9 copper mines are expected to begin production in the coming years. The Resolution Copper Project, near Superior, is expected to provide 25% of the U.S. demand for copper after it begins production.

The effects of economic growth driven by the mining industry can be seen statewide. In 2006, copper mining produced $1.4 billion in personal income; $3 billion in business income; and $325 million in state and local government revenue. Money generated from Arizona's mining industry is spent in tourism, commerce and business transactions in communities throughout the entire state. As the aggregate economy slows, the dollar drops, stocks taper and fuel rises, the increased demand for copper spurs an increased value of the metal – a welcome indicator of economic optimism and confidence for Arizona.

Here are some facts about copper that provide insight on its wide-spread reach:

· An average single-family home contains 440 pounds of copper.

· 195 pounds - building wire
151 pounds - plumbing tube, fillings, valves
24 pounds - plumbers' brass goods
48 pounds - built-in appliances
12 pounds - builders hardware
10 pounds - other wire and tube

  • An average multi-family home contains 280 pounds of copper.

· An average of copper content found in household appliances –

· 52 pounds - unitary air conditioner
48 pounds - unitary heat pump
5.0 pounds - dishwasher
4.8 pounds - refrigerator/freezer
4.4 pounds - clothes washer
2.7 pounds - dehumidifier
2.3 pounds - disposer
2.0 pounds - clothes dryer
1.3 pounds - range

  • Over 50 pounds of copper is in the average US-built automobile. Today's luxury vehicles have about 1500 copper wires, totaling over 1 mile in length.
  • An average motorized farm vehicle contains 63 pounds of copper, while an average construction vehicle contains 66 pounds of copper.
  • A typical diesel-electric railroad locomotive contains about 12,000 pounds of copper.
  • 9000 pounds of copper is found in a Boeing 747-200, including 632,000 feet of copper wire.
  • High-speed digital telecommunication cable is made of copper. Category 5 lines can accommodate bandwidths of 100 megahertz, while newer Category 6 lines can deliver 250 megahertz and carry data streams of up to 1 gigabit per second.


  1. Anonymous2:34 PM

    I live in Sahuarita and I want to say you people have ruined the mountains. It is a complete eyesore not to mention a enviromental hazzard. When you look across it, it looks like you have sheared the mountain off. Now you want to expand? As if you people were'nt greedy enough. No wonder we have such terrible dust storms, there is no protection left. Get a clue and preserve the land. Leave Arizona alone.

  2. Anonymous7:40 PM

    I am sure you would say the same thing about the Grand Canyon. What an eyesore that is! Do you have any idea where we would be without mining? Probably not. You would prefer we live in the stone age and be one with nature... except you want the benefits of what people have invented and produced. What would you do with out your ipod or computer... you must have used one to post your ridiculous comment. You should check on all the environmental regulations mines need to follow, even before they start digging, and their recovery plans when they are done.
    You need to "get a clue" and get your head out of the sand. We need mining. (btw, I have nothing to do with the mining industry.)