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|This paper characterizes the copper cycle, that is, the flows of copper entering and leaving the African economy over a one-year period (1994). The major flows over the entire life-cycle of copper are examined; these include production (mining, milling and refining), fabrication of semi-products and manufacturing of finished products, use, and the waste management system. The results reveal that substantial amounts of copper (of order705 Gg/yr) are mined in Africa; of that amount, about 70 per cent is exported following processing, 18 per cent is utilized by African fabricators, and 12 per cent is discarded. The flows of copper products from African fabricators and product imports from other continents exceed product discards by large amounts. This difference, about 0.25 kg Cu/capita/yr on average, is added to in-use stock, largely as wire, plumbing tube, and in electronics. Some 65 per cent of the copper in discard flows is contained in electrical and electronic products, where it is relatively easy to collect and process for reuse. About a third of the copper discard flows known is recycled. The actual percentage is almost certainly higher because of informal (and unrecorded) recycling. Much of the remaining discarded copper is diluted into the municipal waste stream, where recovery and recycling are probably not economically justified. Keywords: material flow analysis, resource management, material budgets, copper, stocks and flows, systems analysis, Africa, developing country|