History of China’s Electrolytic Copper Production

Additonal authors: Hu, Changping. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:

Proceedings, Vol. Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019, 2019

Tan, Keqin

In 1937, the Metallurgical Department of the National Resources Committee established a copper refinery plant (predecessor of the Chongqing Smelter) in Changsha, Hunan Province, China. The blister copper produced by a local copper smelter was casted as anode for electrorefining. The plant, with a capacity of one ton of electrolytic copper per day, was designed and tested in 1937. At the trial production stage, a total of 9 tons of cathode copper was produced. The plant was formally put into operation in July 1938. In the same month, more than 20 tons of electrolytic copper with purity over 99.9%Cu was produced. This was the first batch of electrolytic copper produced in China. In 1939, China’s largest non-ferrous metal smelting plant, Fengtian Gold Mine Refining (predecessor of the Shenyang smelter) was completed and put into operation in Shenyang, mainly producing nonferrous metals such as gold and silver, as well as copper and lead. In 1939, the Kunming copper smelter (predecessor of Yunnan Smelter) was completed and put into operation. The plant equipment, imported from the United Kingdom, was designed to produce 1,200 tons of electrolytic copper annually. In 1943, Jiatong smelter (predecessor of the Shanghai Smelter) became the 4th domestic cathode copper producer. Since 1949, China has gradually established a large copper industry. These developments are discussed in this paper. Today, China operates nine out of the twenty largest copper refineries in the world. With a total capacity approaching 9 million tons of copper per year, China has the world’s largest copper refining capacity. INTRODUCTION China is a country with a long history of copper mining. The earliest smelter in China in recent times was the Shanghai Smelter, which was built in 1912. From then until 1949, China successively built Chongqing Smelter, Kunming Smelter and Shenyang Smelter. The world's first copper electrorefinery was the Pembrey refinery built in the UK in 1869 (Lu, 1999). However, it was not until 69 years later that the technology was spread to Changsha, China.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019