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The 2012 Summer Olympics Feature Gold, Silver Bronze…and Copper

July 27th, 2012

By Victoria Prather, Manager, Communications CDA

As the 2012 Summer Olympics open tonight in London, athletes from across the globe are coveting the gold, silver and bronze medals, but did you know that each medal is actually created using copper mined in the United States? 

The minded copper made its way to The Royal Mint which has produced 4,700 victory medals for the Olympic Games at its headquarters in Llantrisant, South Wales.  The medals, slightly larger than normal, weigh between 375 and 400 grams each, and have a diameter of 85 mm with a thickness of 7 mm.

Just how much copper does each medal contain?

  • The gold medal is made up of 92.5 percent silver, 6.16 percent copper and 1.34 percent gold.
  • The silver medal is made up of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper.
  • The bronze medal is made up of 97 percent copper, 2.5 percent zinc and 0.5 percent tin.

While these awards are manufactured in the United Kingdom, the ore for the medals actually comes from London 2012 sponsor Rio Tinto‘s copper mine in Salt Lake City, Utah. The U.S.-based company donated more than two tons of copper for the 2012 medals.

The 2012 copper alloy medals feature the work of British artist David Watkins. The front of the medal depicts the Greek Goddess of Victory, Nike, stepping out of the depiction of the Parthenon to arrive in the Host City.  The opposite side of the coin contains five main symbolic elements, which represent the host city.

The Olympics are one of the world’s greatest sporting spectacles, showcasing a spirit of competitiveness and camaraderie, and the copper industry is proud to be associated with this historic event.

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