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Copper is key to energy transition


Prelims: Geography – Minerals

Mains: General Studies I– Distribution of Key Natural Resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).

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India’s copper import dependency and domestic copper demand

Key Facts 🗝️ 

  • Copper prices are linked to three things : demand/supply scenario, money market and the speculative environment.
  • Copper is critical for the clean energy transition and that’s very evident in markets like China and Europe.
  • Copper growth in the world is still 3 to 4 percent.
  • It has been included in list of critical minerals.
  • India imports more than 90% of the Copper.



    • It is non-ferrous metal
    • Found in – both ancient and younger rock formations as veins and bedded deposits.
    • Ores : Chalcopyrite, copper sulfide, and basic carbonates
    • Uses  electrical industry for making wires, electric motors, transformers and generators. Copper is resistant to corrosion and does not rust
    • Deposits –  
      • Singhbhum district in Jharkhand, 
      • Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh 
      • Jhunjhunu and Alwar districts in Rajasthan.
    • Other producers of copper – 
      • Agnigundala in Guntur District, 
      • Andhra Pradesh, Chitradurg 
      • Hasan districts, Karnataka and South Arcot district, Tamil Nadu.
    • Chile is the world’s largest copper producer, followed by Peru. Other copper-producing countries include the USA, Canada, and Australia 
Copper Mines in India

Critical minerals

  • Minerals that are essential for economic development and national security, the lack of availability of these minerals or concentration of extraction or processing in a few geographical locations may lead to supply chain vulnerabilities and even disruption of supplies.
  • Electronics, telecommunications , defense industries rely on these minerals.
  • India heavily relies on imports for critical minerals like lithium and nickel, with 100% import reliance for lithium and nickel, and 93% for copper.

Source: IE 

UPSC CSE Exam Corner

Prelims: PYQ related to Topic

Why is there a concern about copper smelting plants?
1. They may release lethal quantities of carbon monoxide into environment.
2. The copper slag can cause the leaching of some heavy metals into environment.
3. They may release sulphur dioxide as a pollutant.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.

A) 1 and 2 only

B) 2 and 3 only

C) 1 and 3 only

D) 1, 2 and 3 only

Ans : b. 2 and 3 only

Explaination :

  • In copper smelting process, first, the carbon (C) combusts with oxygen (O2) in the air to produce carbon monoxide (CO). Second, the carbon monoxide reacts with the ore and removes one of its oxygen atoms, releasing carbon dioxide. Hence, it does not release lethal quantity of CO in the environment. 
  • Copper smelters emit staggering amounts of toxic pollution i.e., lead, arsenic and selenium. These heavy metals and particulate matter from copper smelters contaminate the environment downwind and downstream. 
  • Copper smelters are the largest source of sulphur oxides (SOx) and trace elements. Suspended particles have a pollution scope of 2-3 km, while Sulphur dioxide has a range of as much as 15 km. 

Mains: PYQ/ Related Question

Critically evaluate the various resources of the oceans which can be harnessed to meet the resource crisis in the world. (150 words)

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