What elements other than copper would you expect to find in copper ores?

1 Answer

The most common nonmetals would be Sulfur and Oxygen, but the two most common metals would be Silver and Gold.


Most copper ores are sulfides or oxides.

Examples are covellite (#"CuS"#), chalcocite (#"Cu"_2"S"#), cuprite (#"CuO"#), and malachite (#"Cu"_2"CO"_3("OH")_2#).

But your instructor probably wants to know what other metals are likely to be found in copper ores.

Those would be metals with properties similar to those of copper.

Your textbook is correct: Elements in the same Group have similar properties.

Copper is in Group 11, along with silver and gold, so I would expect to find #"Au"# and #"Ag"# in copper ores.

They all have a similar electron configuration, ending in #ns (n-1)d^10#.

That means they should all have similar properties.

Copper, silver, and gold are known collectively as the coinage metals.


They are all malleable and ductile with a characteristic lustre.

They also have similar chemical properties:

  • Unreactive to most acids
  • Do not readily form oxides
  • Relatively inert in general
  • Excellent conductors of electricity

One of the most common ores of copper is geffroyite, #"Ag"_5.4"Cu"_2.7"Fe"_0.9"Se"_6"S"_2#.

Olympic Dam in South Australia has produced 8.33 Mt of ore containing #0.8%# Cu, #0.76# g/t Au, and #3.95# g/t Ag.

We can see that the Periodic Table correctly predicts what other metals we might find in copper ore.