All the Metals We Mined in One Visualization
Metals are a big part of our daily lives, found in every building we enter and all devices we use.
Today, major industries that directly consume processed mineral materials contribute 14% of the United States economy.
The above infographic visualizes all 2.8 billion tonnes of metals mined in 2022 and highlights each metal’s largest end-use using data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
Iron Ore Dominance
Iron ore dominates the metals mining landscape, comprising 93% of the total mined. In 2022, 2.6 billion tonnes of iron ore were mined, containing about 1.6 billion tonnes of iron.
|Metal/Ore||Quantity Mined in 2022 (tonnes)||% of Total|
|Technology and Precious Metals||1,500,008||0.05%|
Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.
Iron ores are found in various geologic environments, such as igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary rocks, and can contain over 70% iron, with many falling in the 50-60% range.
Combined with other materials like coke and limestone, iron ore is primarily used in steel production. Today, almost all (98%) iron ore is dedicated to steelmaking.
The ore is typically mined in about 50 countries, but Australia, Brazil, China, and India are responsible for 75% of the production.
Because of its essential role in infrastructure development, iron ore is one of the most crucial materials underpinning urbanization and economic growth.
Industrial metals occupy the second position on our list, constituting 6.6% of all metals mined in 2022. These metals, including copper, aluminum, lead, and zinc, are employed in construction and industrial applications.
Aluminum constituted nearly 40% of industrial metal production in 2022. China was responsible for 56% of all aluminum produced.
|Industrial Metals||2022 Mine Production (tonnes)||% of Total|
|Titanium (mineral concentrates)||9,500,000||5.1%|
|Zirconium Minerals (Zircon)||1,400,000||0.8%|
In the second position is chromium, which plays a primary role in rendering stainless steel corrosion-resistant. South Africa led chromium production, accounting for 44% of the total mined last year.
Technology and Precious Metals
Despite representing less than 1% of all the metals mined, technology metals have been on the news over the last few years as countries and companies seek these materials to reduce carbon emissions and improve productivity.
|Technology and Precious Metals||2022 Mine Production (tonnes)||% of Total|
|Rare Earth Oxides||300,000||20.0%|
|Platinum Group Metals||400||0.03%|
They include lithium and cobalt, used in electric vehicles and battery storage, and rare earths, used in magnets, metal alloys, and electronics. Many of them are considered critical for countries’ security due to their role in clean energy technologies and dependency on other nations to supply domestic demand.
However, despite increasing interest in these metals, they are still behind precious metals such as gold and silver regarding market size.
The gold market, for example, reached $196 billion in 2022, compared to $10.6 billion of the rare earth market.
An Investor’s Guide to Copper in 3 Charts
Explore three key insights into the future of the copper market, from soaring demand to potential supply constraints.
An Investor’s Guide to Copper
Copper is the world’s third-most utilized industrial metal and the linchpin of many clean energy technologies. It forms the vital connections in our electricity networks, grid storage systems, and electric vehicles.
In this graphic, sponsored by iShares, we dig into the forces that are set to shape the future of the copper landscape.
How Much Copper Do We Need?
Copper is poised to experience a remarkable 54% surge in demand from 2022 to 2050.
Here’s a breakdown of the expected demand for copper across clean energy technologies.
|Technology||2022 (kt)||2050P (kt)|
|Other low emissions power generation||93.7||142.2|
|Grid battery storage||24.6||665.2|
Copper is vital in renewable energy systems such as wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicle batteries because of its high electrical conductivity and durability.
It ensures the effective transmission of electricity and heat, enhancing the overall performance and sustainability of these technologies.
The rising demand for copper in the clean energy sector underscores its critical role in the transition to a greener and more sustainable future.
When Will Copper Demand Exceed Supply?
The burgeoning demand for copper has set the stage for looming supply challenges with a 22% gap predicted by 2031.
Given this metal’s pivotal role in clean energy and technological advancements, innovative mining and processing technologies could hold the key to boosting copper production and meeting the needs of a net-zero future.
Investing in Copper for a Prosperous Future
Investors looking for copper exposure may want to consider an ETF that tracks an index that offers access to companies focused on the exploration and mining of copper.
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