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A Year’s Extraction of Metal Shown Next to Landmarks and Cities


A Year’s Extraction of Metal Shown Next to Cities

By Visual Capitalist

Visualizing the annual production of commodities next to famous landmarks. View all 9 slides by clicking arrows at bottom right.

  • One year of platinum production

    By Visual Capitalist

    2013: 179 tonnes of Pt is a cube (2.03m each side) worth $8B

  • One year of gold production

    By Visual Capitalist

    2013: 2,982 tonnes of Au is a cube (5.36m sides) worth $125B

  • One year of silver production

    By Visual Capitalist

    2013: 25,500 tonnes of Ag is a cube (13.4m sides) worth $16B

  • One year of uranium production

    By Visual Capitalist

    2013: 62,200 tonnes of U is a cube (14.5m sides) worth $2.5B

  • One year of nickel production

    By Visual Capitalist

    2013: 1.9m tonnes of Ni is a cube (59.8m sides) worth $33.5B

  • One year of copper production

    By Visual Capitalist

    2013: 18m tonnes of Cu is a cube (126.2m sides) worth $120B

  • One year of iron production

    By Visual Capitalist

    2013: 2.95b tonnes of Fe is a cube (721m sides) worth $295B

  • One year of oil production

    By Visual Capitalist

    2013: 4.3b tonnes is a cube (1,714.5m sides) worth $3.2 trillion! 

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    By Visual Capitalist

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A Year’s Extraction of Metal Shown Next to Landmarks and Cities

“One death is a tragedy. One million is a statistic.” – Joseph Stalin

For thousands of years of development as a species, humans never really needed to understand the real meaning behind big, unreachable numbers such as billions or trillions. As a result, even today we have difficulty imaging what these seemingly abstract numbers represent.

This is why visualization can be such a powerful tool. Instead of dealing with zeroes, we get to actually see these large numbers applied in a way that we can relate to.

In the above slideshow visualization, we have taken the annual production of eight major commodities (platinum, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, copper, iron, and oil) and imagined that we could lump them together into a large 3d cube. Then, we put the cube within context of a visual scene that we can contrast them with. In this case, famous landmarks and cities.

Some cubes, such as platinum’s, are only the size of a Volkswagen. Others, such as oil, are kilometres on each side and span blocks of major cities.

We also calculated the value of each cube. Amazingly, all precious metals (gold, silver, platinum, palladium, etc.) do not even come close to comparing to the value of iron or oil. It goes to show how rare they are, but also that the size of their markets are sometimes not as massive as we think within the context of the bigger picture.

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