Native Copper as an ore mineral is very rare throughout the world, although minor occurrences of the mineral are widespread. The aggregate form of copper is highly variable and a number of distinctive types have been recognized.
Native copper (copper found in a chemically uncombined state) has been mined for centuries and now is all but depleted as an economically viable ore. Other copper minerals are far more economical to mine and purify into metallic copper that is used for wiring, electrical components, pennies and other coins, tubing and many other applications. Native copper is still found in limited quantities in once-active mining regions. These finds are now valuable as mineralogical specimens and ornamental pieces.
Fine specimens only rarely demonstrate crystal faces and these are prized above similar specimens. The greatest Native Copper Ore Deposits ever found anywhere in the world and mined profitably were those of the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Michigan Native Copper mineral deposit occurs in a belt about 110 miles long with a average width of around 10 miles. The Copper mineral occurs in amygadaloids, conglomerates and fissures, and has been found in size from microscopic grains to very large masses (Mass Copper) of up to around 1,200,000 pounds.
Float Copper is found in mass throughout the Midwest and was deposited by the glaciers that moved the Copper masses from the Michigan Copper Country. At the turn of the century, the community of Bisbee, located just east of the Mule Mountains in southeastern Arizona, reigned as one of the premiere copper mining towns in the world. In 1877, Bisbee's Copper Queen Mine opened where miners would extract over eight billion pounds of copper, almost 3 million ounces of gold and over 7.5 million ounces of silver before the close of the mine in 1975.
Native Copper sometimes has Silver Inclusions and is locally called a Half breed. Native Copper has been classified into 14 different Copper forms of occurrence and can occur in 6 Copper crystal habits.
14 Different Forms of Copper
6 Copper crystal habits
Very Rare Copper Crystal Plate Specimen from the El Salvador Mine, Chile
Native Copper from the El Salvador Mine, El Salvador, Atacama Province, Chile
This specimen is from the 1950’s. It was collected by a geologist whose work was home based in Columbia. It is from the El Salvador Mine (The Savior) which is a combined open pit and underground copper mine located in Chile. The mine was originally built by The Anaconda Company in the 1950s. In 1971, with the nationalization of the copper industry in Chile, full ownership of the mine was turned over to the newly formed, state owned copper mining company Codelco (Corporación Nacional del Cobre…which translates to… National Copper Company). The El Salvador Mine operates as Codelco's smallest mine (and also has their highest operating costs). This is a very unique, old and interesting specimen of copper from a very rare locale. Copper specimens from here are uncommon, even in international collections. There are touches of green verdigris on the tops of the arborescent growth with rounded terminations corresponding to deformed crystals.
Specimen weighs 26.6 oz or 1.66 lbs (755g) and Measures 5.9 x 3.8 x 0.9 inches (14.9 x 9.7 x 2.25cm)
Natural Copper Specimen from Keweenaw Penninsula in Michigan
Natural Copper Specimen from a Keweenaw Penninsula in Michigan miners collection. A very nice specimen of natural copper.
specimen weighs 3 oz or 0.18 lb (85g) and measures 1.5 x 0.9 x 0.1 inches (38 x 23 x 2.5mm)
Old Michigan Miners Souvenir Mantlepiece Copper Specimen
This special copper specimen was an old copper miner’s souvenir from his younger mining days which he kept on his fireplace mantle. It is from the historic copper mines of the Keweenaw Peninsula, which is the northernmost part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It projects into Lake Superior and was the site of the first copper boom in the United States. This specimen was procured by us in the late 1990’s from an old friend of the miner. We left the specimen just as it was when we got it. It is mounted rather crudely in a piece of used wood and mounted in carved out recesses with a glue gun. This piece had a lot of memories for the old miner, so we thought it best to preserve it as we had received it. This is an excellent copper specimen with prehnite crystals and coatings. The crystals are worn edged, as can be seen in the photos, indicating the specimens age. This is a real piece of mining history from a classic locale!
Specimen weighs 57.4 oz or 3.59 lbs (1.628kg) Measures 6.58 x 4.45 x 1.73 inches (16.7 x 11.3 x 4.4cm)
Native Sheet Copper with Matrix Rock and Minor Malachite from Arizona
This is a specimen from our private collection. It is native sheet copper that formed in thin fissures that occurred in the host rock. It consists of compact, flattened dodecahedral habit copper crystals and arborescent formations that have their natural patina. There is minor Malachite on this piece as well as one end that has host rock intertwined with the copper formation. This is a beautiful large cabinet display piece from the Ray Mine in Gila County…a classic Arizona locale!
Specimen weighs 3.28 oz or 0.2 lbs (93g) Measures 5.6 x 2.9 x 0.6 inches (14.2 x 7.3 x 1.5cm)
Native Copper with Malachite and Copper Carbonate from Ajo, Arizona
This is a specimen of native copper stalactite with arborescent formations at its base. It consists of dodecahedral habit copper crystals and arborescent formations that have their natural patina. There is minor Malachite on this piece as well as copper carbonate. This is a beautiful small cabinet display piece from Ajo (125 miles west of Tucson), Pima County, Arizona. Ajo has one of Arizona’s best-known porphyry copper deposits. (Porphyry copper deposits are copper orebodies that are formed from hydrothermal fluids that originate from a voluminous magma chamber several kilometers below the deposit itself.)
Specimen weighs 0.6 oz (19g) Measures 1.4 x 1.1 x 0.6 inches (3.7 x 2.9 x 1.6cm)
Native Copper Crystals from the Morenci Mine, Arizona
This is a specimen of native copper crystals that have their natural patina. There is minor Malachite on this piece. This is a beautiful small cabinet display piece from the Morenci Mine located just outside of the town Morenci in Greenlee County, Arizona. The Detroit Copper Company started mining at Morenci, Arizona, in 1872. Copper Queen Consolidated Mining bought the property in 1885, with the company name changed to Phelps Dodge in 1917. In 1986, Phelps Dodge partnered with Sumitomo Metal Mining of AZ and formed the Phelps Dodge Morenci. in 2007 it was taken over by Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold which is now the largest copper producer in North America. This is an Arizona Classic!
Specimen weighs 0.7 oz (22g) Measures 1 x 0.85 x 0.5 inches (26.8 x 21.6 x 13.3mm)