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The mineralogy of Copper

General Properties
Atomic Number:29
Standard atomic weight (Ar):63.546(3)
Electron configuration:[Ar] 3d10 4s1
Natural copper nugget
Atomic Properties
Electronegativity (Pauling scale):1.9
Atomic Radius:145 pm
Ionic Radius:77 pm (+1)
Van der Waals Radius:140 pm
1st Ionization energy:746 kJ/mol
1st Electron affinity:-118 kJ/mol
Oxidation States:1,2,3,4
Physical Properties
Standard State:solid
Bonding Type:metallic
Melting Point:1358 K
Boiling Point:3200 K
Density:8.92 g/cm3
Metal/Non-Metal:transition metal
Main isotopes of Copper
Isotope% in NatureHalf LifeDecay typeDecay product
Main ions of Copper
NameIonExample minerals
copper(I)Cu+Cuprite, Chalcocite
copper(II)Cu2+Malachite, Azurite, Tenorite
Other Information
Year Discovered:9000 BC
Named For:
Cyprus, principal mining place in Roman era (Cyprium)
CPK color coding:#C88033
External Links:WikipediaWebElementsLos Alamos National LaboratoryTheodore Gray's
Simple Compounds and Mineral Names
Sulfidescopper (I) sulphideCu2S+1Chalcocite
copper (II) sulphideCuS+2Covellite
Selenidescopper (I) selenideCu2Se+1Berzelianite, Bellidoite
copper (II) selenideCuSe+2Klockmannite
copper (II) diselenideCuSe2+2Krut'aite
Telluridescopper (II) tellurideCuTe+2Vulcanite
copper (I) tellurideCu2Te+1Weissite
Hydroxidescopper (II) hydroxideCu(OH)2+2Spertiniite
Fluoridescopper (I) fluorideCuF+1
copper (II) fluorideCuF2+2
Chloridescopper (I) chlorideCuCl+1Nantokite
copper (II) chlorideCuCl2+2Tolbachite
copper (II) chloride dihydrateCuCl2 · 2H2O+2Eriochalcite
Bromidescopper (II) bromideCuBr2+2
Iodidescopper (I) iodideCuI+1Marshite
Oxidescopper (I) oxideCu2O+1Cuprite
copper (II) oxideCuO+2Tenorite
Carbonatesdicopper carbonate dihydroxideCu2(OH)2CO3+2Malachite
tricopper dicarbonate dihydroxideCu3(CO3)2(OH)2+2Azurite
Nitratescopper (I) nitrateCuNO3+1
copper (II) nitrateCu(NO3)2+2
Sulfatescopper (II) sulfateCuSO4+2Chalcocyanite
copper (II) sulfate trihydrateCuSO4 · 3H2O+2Bonattite
copper (II) sulfate pentahydrateCuSO4 · 5H2O+2Chalcanthite
copper (II) sulfate heptahydrateCuSO4 · 7H2O+2Boothite
Copper as a chromophore in minerals and gems
Cu+Red colour in cuprite
Cu2+Produces blue and green colour in azurite, malachite, etc.
Mineral Diversity of Copper
1. Elements 21 valid mineral species
2. Sulfides And Sulfosalts 209 valid mineral species
3. Halides35 valid mineral species
4. Oxides 46 valid mineral species
5. Carbonates 19 valid mineral species
6. Borates5 valid mineral species
7. Sulfates 85 valid mineral species
8. Phosphates, Arsenates, Vanadates127 valid mineral species
9. Silicates 27 valid mineral species
10. Organic Compounds5 valid mineral species
Total:579 valid species containing essential Copper
Geochemistry of Copper
Goldschmidt classification:Chalcophile
Cu2+ was one of the ions least depleted from the mantle in the formation of the crust.
Cu2+ is concentrated in deep-sea ferromanganese nodules relative to seawater.
Cu2+ solute can be a limiting nutrient in the growth of bacteria.
Cu2+ solute is a micronutrient on land.
Cu2+ is essential to nutrition of at least some vertebrates ('essential minerals').
Elemental Abundance for Copper
Crust (CRC Handbook)6.0 x 10-5mass fraction, kg/kg
Crust (Kaye & Laby)5.8 x 10-5mass fraction, kg/kg
Crust (Greenwood)6.8 x 10-5mass fraction, kg/kg
Crust (Ahrens/Taylor)7.5 x 10-5mass fraction, kg/kg
Crust (Ahrens/Wänke)4.7 x 10-5mass fraction, kg/kg
Upper Crust (Ahrens/Taylor)2.5 x 10-5mass fraction, kg/kg
Upper Crust (Ahrens/Shaw)1.4 x 10-5mass fraction, kg/kg
Sea Water (CRC Handbook)2.5 x 10-10mass per volume fraction, kg/L
Sea Water (Kaye & Laby)2.3 x 10-8mass per volume fraction, kg/L
The Sun (Kaye & Laby)4.5 x 10-4atom mole fraction relative to Si=1
Solar System (Kaye & Laby)5.2 x 10-4atom mole fraction relative to Si=1
Solar System (Ahrens)5.22 x 10-4 (11%)atom mole fraction relative to Si=1 (% uncertainty)
Element association of Copper in the Mineral World
This table compares the known valid mineral species listed listed with Copper and the other elements listed based on the official IMA formula. Note that unlike other sections on this page this includes non-essential elements.

The first data column contains the total number of minerals listed with Copper and the element listed for that row.

The second data column lists this number as a percentage of all minerals listed with Copper.

The final data column compares this percentage against the percentage of all minerals that contain the element listed in each row.

Click on a heading to sort.
ElementValid Minerals listed with element and Copper% of Cu mineralsRelative to % in all minerals
Oxygen1322 minerals with Cu and O62.86%18.13% lower
Hydrogen1019 minerals with Cu and H48.45%9.51% lower
Sulfur864 minerals with Cu and S41.08%104.95% higher
Arsenic477 minerals with Cu and As22.68%93.34% higher
Lead382 minerals with Cu and Pb18.16%85.47% higher
Iron355 minerals with Cu and Fe16.88%19.67% lower
Chlorine273 minerals with Cu and Cl12.98%82.87% higher
Bismuth186 minerals with Cu and Bi8.84%116.42% higher
Zinc186 minerals with Cu and Zn8.84%76.80% higher
Calcium182 minerals with Cu and Ca8.65%63.06% lower
Selenium167 minerals with Cu and Se7.94%252.20% higher
Aluminium163 minerals with Cu and Al7.75%59.78% lower
Antimony159 minerals with Cu and Sb7.56%60.16% higher
Silver156 minerals with Cu and Ag7.42%125.20% higher
Potassium144 minerals with Cu and K6.85%23.93% lower
Tellurium135 minerals with Cu and Te6.42%113.12% higher
Sodium129 minerals with Cu and Na6.13%66.58% lower
Phosphorus116 minerals with Cu and P5.52%50.92% lower
Silicon116 minerals with Cu and Si5.52%79.64% lower
Carbon108 minerals with Cu and C5.14%31.08% lower
Vanadium97 minerals with Cu and V4.61%7.32% higher
Tin78 minerals with Cu and Sn3.71%117.07% higher
Nickel69 minerals with Cu and Ni3.28%10.87% higher
Magnesium68 minerals with Cu and Mg3.23%74.43% lower
Mercury54 minerals with Cu and Hg2.57%47.24% higher
Uranium51 minerals with Cu and U2.43%51.35% lower
Thallium48 minerals with Cu and Tl2.28%79.97% higher
Molybdenum41 minerals with Cu and Mo1.95%62.76% higher
Platinum37 minerals with Cu and Pt1.76%185.37% higher
Palladium34 minerals with Cu and Pd1.62%29.27% higher
Germanium34 minerals with Cu and Ge1.62%178.13% higher
Cadmium33 minerals with Cu and Cd1.57%229.94% higher
Nitrogen32 minerals with Cu and N1.52%26.79% lower
Cobalt25 minerals with Cu and Co1.19%3.59% lower
Manganese24 minerals with Cu and Mn1.14%89.24% lower
Gold23 minerals with Cu and Au1.09%88.15% higher
Chromium22 minerals with Cu and Cr1.05%38.77% lower
Fluorine21 minerals with Cu and F1.00%86.63% lower
Barium20 minerals with Cu and Ba0.95%78.32% lower
Iridium17 minerals with Cu and Ir0.81%129.46% higher
Iodine17 minerals with Cu and I0.81%52.97% higher
Boron17 minerals with Cu and B0.81%83.78% lower
Lanthanum13 minerals with Cu and La0.62%43.40% lower
Tungsten12 minerals with Cu and W0.57%28.01% lower
Cerium12 minerals with Cu and Ce0.57%79.75% lower
Indium12 minerals with Cu and In0.57%131.38% higher
Neodymium11 minerals with Cu and Nd0.52%7.21% lower
Rhodium11 minerals with Cu and Rh0.52%74.67% higher
Yttrium10 minerals with Cu and Y0.48%79.23% lower
Strontium9 minerals with Cu and Sr0.43%82.52% lower
Gallium8 minerals with Cu and Ga0.38%208.51% higher
Titanium6 minerals with Cu and Ti0.29%95.66% lower
Caesium5 minerals with Cu and Cs0.24%46.01% lower
Bromine4 minerals with Cu and Br0.19%28.01% lower
Lithium4 minerals with Cu and Li0.19%90.44% lower
Rhenium3 minerals with Cu and Re0.14%304.92% higher
Samarium1 mineral with Cu and Sm0.05%34.97% higher
Gadolinium1 mineral with Cu and Gd0.05%169.95% higher
Periodic Table
1H 2He
3Li 4Be 5B 6C 7N 8O 9F 10Ne
11Na 12Mg 13Al 14Si 15P 16S 17Cl 18Ar
19K 20Ca 21Sc 22Ti 23V 24Cr 25Mn 26Fe 27Co 28Ni 29Cu 30Zn 31Ga 32Ge 33As 34Se 35Br 36Kr
37Rb 38Sr 39Y 40Zr 41Nb 42Mo 43Tc 44Ru 45Rh 46Pd 47Ag 48Cd 49In 50Sn 51Sb 52Te 53I 54Xe
55Cs 56Ba 57La 72Hf 73Ta 74W 75Re 76Os 77Ir 78Pt 79Au 80Hg 81Tl 82Pb 83Bi 84Po 85At 86Rn
87Fr 88Ra 89Ac 104Rd 105Db 106Sg 107Bh 108Hs 109Mt 110Ds 111Rg 112Cn 113Nh 114Fl 115Mc 116Lv 117Ts 118Og
58Ce 59Pr 60Nd 61Pm 62Sm 63Eu 64Gd 65Tb 66Dy 67Ho 68Er 69Tm 70Yb 71Lu
90Th 91Pa 92U 93Np 94Pu 95Am 96Cm 97Bk 98Cf 99Es 100Fm 101Md 102No 103Lr
Default Categories CPK Electronegativity Atomic Radius Lowest Oxidation Highest Oxidation Crustal Abundance Goldschmidt Mineral Species Minerals with Cu Relative Frequency
Nickel << Copper >> Zinc

Most widespread minerals containing Copper
This list of minerals containing Copper is built from the locality database. This is based on the number of localities entered for mineral species and is therefore slanted towards minerals interesting to collectors with less coverage of common rock-forming-minerals so it does not give an undistorted distribution of Copper mineral species. It is more useful when comparing rare species rather than common species.
NameFormulaCrystal SystemMindat Localities

Localities with greatest number of different Copper mineral species
map should go here
2Clara Mine, Oberwolfach, Wolfach, Ortenaukreis, Freiburg Region, Baden-Württemberg, Germany101 Cu minerals
4Tsumeb Mine, Tsumeb, Oshikoto Region, Namibia89 Cu minerals
6Bisbee, Cochise County, Arizona, USA78 Cu minerals
8Cap Garonne Mine, Le Pradet, Var, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France63 Cu minerals

Important ores of Copper
NameFormulaCrystal System

Minor ores of Copper
NameFormulaCrystal System
Tennantite SubgroupCu6(Cu4 C2+2)As4S12SIsometric
Tetrahedrite SubgroupCu6(Cu4 C2+2)Sb4S12SIsometric
Significant Deposits
1La Escondida Mine, Escondida, El Loa Province, Antofagasta, Chile
The Escondida mine is the world's largest copper mine by proven reserves (over 32 million tonnes in 2012)

Spotted a mistake/omission? - These pages are a work in progress, so please send all comments/corrections to Thank you.

Constants and physical property data from:

David R. Lide (ed.), CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 85th Edition. CRC Press. Boca Raton, Florida (2005).
Kaye and Laby Tables of Physical & Chemical Constants (2005). Section 3.1.3, Abundances of the elements
A. Earnshaw, N. Greenwood, Chemistry of the Elements, 2nd edition, Butterworth-Heinemann, (1997)
Thomas J. Ahrens (ed.), Global Earth Physics : A Handbook of Physical Constants, American Geophysical Union (1995)
L.B. Railsback, An Earth Scientist's Periodic Table of the Elements and Their Ions : Geology 31:9 p737-740 (2003)
Emsley, J. Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements. New York: Oxford University Press (2001)
Mineral and/or Locality  
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