​Copper benches passing on health benefits at Ernest Henry Mining

From the cables that feed electricity into our homes to the tiny connections in our mobile phones and computers, copper's unique conductive qualities ensure it plays a key role in powering 20th century life.

Now, thanks to its phenomenal anti-bacterial capabilities, copper is coming out on top in the war against drug-resistant superbugs.

Copper is known to reduce the touch-transfer of disease-causing organisms and when cleaned regularly, antimicrobial copper surfaces kill 99.9 per cent of bacteria within two hours of exposure. This can have a big impact on reducing the prevalence of disease-causing bacteria in healthcare facilities.

For this reason copper has been used in the construction and modification of two benches in our Health Clinic at Ernest Henry Mining (EHM).

One of the new bench tops is being used in the medical clinic's drug testing area and the other is in the medical preparation area. These are the first products with antimicrobial properties being used within our north Queensland operations.

Julia Mansfield, Health Coordinator at EHM, says the copper benches were installed in late 2012.

"We hope that other areas of the operation will also be able to use this type of copper touch surfaces to take advantage of their antimicrobial properties,' Julia says.

"Other areas that come to mind are kitchen preparation surfaces at the Accommodation Village and door handles."

"The health and safety of our workers and visitors is always our number one concern and hopefully these new benches will contribute to this in a positive way at a local level."

In the United States alone, it is estimated that infections acquired in hospitals affect two million people every year, resulting in nearly 100,000 deaths annually.

Unlike coatings or other material treatments, the antibacterial effectiveness of copper metals won't wear away and Antimicrobial Copper is the only solid surface material registered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to continuously kill bacteria.