Part of Britains Biggest Adventure with Bear Grylls was filmed here at Sygun Copper Mine.
How do you get copper from rock?
First you have to grind the ore to a powder. Then you separate the copper minerals from the waste (see the Flotation Process below). Then you need to heat the powder with carbon to burn off impurities. This is called smelting.
Less that 1% of copper ore is copper.
The Flotation Process
Flotation was a new process that used oil and water to extract minerals. The Elmore brothers, Frank and Stanley who owned the mine with their father, invented a way to use flotation to extract copper minerals on a commercial scale. They installed their new system at Sygun.
Bronze = Copper + Tin
During the bronze age (around - 2100BCE to 750BCE in Britain) they found that adding a bit of tin to copper made a stronger more durable substance to make things such as tools, weapons, pots and jewellery. Bronze age artifacts have been found in Anglesey.
In the 17th century a mining commission was set up to develop mining and extraction techniques within UK mines. During the Industrial revolution the demand for copper increased. Sygun Copper Mine and other copper mines in the North Wales area, such as Parrys Mountain in Amlwch and the Great Orme in Llandudno, were an important source of copper. But the demand for copper increased. Eventually these smaller mines couldn't keep up and were overtaken by competition from abroad.
Today it's cheaper to recycle copper than to extract it!