Copper is actually a pretty common metal used in coining. It is relatively cheap, and lasts a long time. it is also used in several other coins that are made of the alloys aluminium bronze, brass, bronze, cupro-nickel, gun metal, Orichalchum, and Pinchbeck. Below is a website that lists all of the metals and alloys used in coins.
And US cents nowadays are about 97% zinc, not copper, which is just a surface coating.
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