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All the Metals We Mined in One Visualization

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All the Metals We Mined in One Visualization

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All the Metals We Mined in One Visualization

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Metals are all around us, from our phones and cars to our homes and office buildings.

While we often overlook the presence of these raw materials, they are an essential part of the modern economy. But obtaining these materials can be a complex process that involves mining, refining, and then converting them into usable forms.

So, how much metal gets mined in a year?

Metals vs Ores

Before digging into the numbers, it’s important that we distinguish between ores and metals.

Ores are naturally occurring rocks that contain metals and metal compounds. Metals are the valuable parts of ores that can be extracted by separating and removing the waste rock. As a result, ore production is typically much higher than the actual metal content of the ore. For example, miners produced 347 million tonnes of bauxite ore in 2019, but the actual aluminum metal content extracted from that was only 62.9 million tonnes.

Here are all the metals and metal ores mined in 2019, according to the British Geological Survey:

Metal/OreQuantity Mined (tonnes)% of Total
Iron Ore3,040,000,00093.57%
Industrial Metals207,478,4866.39%
Technology and Precious Metals1,335,8480.04%
Total3,248,814,334100%

Miners produced roughly three billion tonnes of iron ore in 2019, representing close to 94% of all mined metals. The primary use of all this iron is to make steel. In fact, 98% of iron ore goes into steelmaking, with the rest fulfilling various other applications.

Industrial and technology metals made up the other 6% of all mined metals in 2019. How do they break down?

Industrial Metals

From construction and agriculture to manufacturing and transportation, virtually every industry harnesses the properties of metals in different ways.

Here are the industrial metals we mined in 2019.

MetalQuantity Mined (tonnes)% of Total
Aluminum62,900,00030%
Manganese Ore56,600,00027%
Chromium Ores and Concentrates38,600,00019%
Copper20,700,00010%
Zinc12,300,0006%
Titanium (Titanium Dioxide Content)6,300,0003%
Lead4,700,0002%
Nickel2,702,0001%
Zirconium Minerals (Zircon)1,337,0001%
Magnesium1,059,7361%
Strontium220,0000.11%
Uranium53,4000.03%
Bismuth3,7000.002%
Mercury2,4000.001%
Beryllium2500.0001%
Total207,478,486100%

Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

It’s no surprise that aluminum is the most-produced industrial metal. The lightweight metal is one of the most commonly used materials in the world, with uses ranging from making foils and beer kegs to buildings and aircraft parts.

Manganese and chromium rank second and third respectively in terms of metal mined, and are important ingredients in steelmaking. Manganese helps convert iron ore into steel, and chromium hardens and toughens steel. Furthermore, manganese is a critical ingredient of lithium-manganese-cobalt-oxide (NMC) batteries for electric vehicles.

Although copper production is around one-third that of aluminum, copper has a key role in making modern life possible. The red metal is found in virtually every wire, motor, and electrical appliance in our homes and offices. It’s also critical for various renewable energy technologies and electric vehicles.

Technology and Precious Metals

Technology is only as good as the materials that make it.

Technology metals can be classified as relatively rare metals commonly used in technology and devices. While miners produce some tech and precious metals in large quantities, others are relatively scarce.

MetalQuantity Mined in 2019 (tonnes)% of Total
Tin305,00023%
Molybdenum275,00021%
Rare Earth Elements220,00016%
Cobalt123,0009%
Lithium97,5007%
Tungsten91,5007%
Vanadium81,0006%
Niobium57,0004%
Cadmium27,5002%
Tantalum27,0002%
Silver26,2612%
Gold3,3500.3%
Indium8510.06%
Platinum Group Metals4570.03%
Gallium3800.03%
Rhenium490.004%
Total1,335,848100.00%

Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Tin was the most-mined tech metal in 2019, and according to the International Tin Association, nearly half of it went into soldering.

It’s also interesting to see the prevalence of battery and energy metals. Lithium, cobalt, vanadium, and molybdenum are all critical for various energy technologies, including lithium-ion batteries, wind farms, and energy storage technologies. Additionally, miners also extracted 220,000 tonnes of rare earth elements, of which 60% came from China.

Given their rarity, it’s not surprising that gold, silver, and platinum group metals (PGMs) were the least-mined materials in this category. Collectively, these metals represent just 2.3% of the tech and precious metals mined in 2019.

A Material World

Although humans mine and use massive quantities of metals every year, it’s important to put these figures into perspective.

According to Circle Economy, the world consumes 100.6 billion tonnes of materials annually. Of this total, 3.2 billion tonnes of metals produced in 2019 would account for just 3% of our overall material consumption. In fact, the world’s annual production of cement alone is around 4.1 billion tonnes, dwarfing total metal production.

The world’s appetite for materials is growing with its population. As resource-intensive megatrends such as urbanization and electrification pick up the pace, our material pie will only get larger.

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Mining

The Biggest Salt Producing Countries in 2023

In this graphic, we break down global salt production in 2023. China is currently the top producer, accounting for almost 20% of output.

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Voronoi graphic breaking down global salt production in 2023.

The Biggest Salt Producing Countries in 2023

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Humanity has utilized salt for thousands of years, dating back to ancient civilizations. The U.S. alone consumes more than 48 million tonnes of salt per year.

In this graphic, we break down global salt production in 2023, measured in tonnes. These estimates come from the U.S. Geological Survey’s latest commodity report on salt.

Ample Supply

Salt is essential for human life, serving various purposes including food preservation, flavor enhancement, industrial processes, and health maintenance. The good news is that the world’s continental resources of salt are vast, and the salt content in the oceans is nearly unlimited.

China is currently the top producer of salt, with almost 20% of the output, followed by the U.S. (15%) and India (11%).

CountryProduction (tonnes)
🇨🇳 China53,000,000
🇺🇸 United States42,000,000
🇮🇳 India30,000,000
🇩🇪 Germany15,000,000
🇦🇺 Australia14,000,000
🇨🇦 Canada12,000,000
🇨🇱 Chile9,200,000
🇲🇽 Mexico9,000,000
🇹🇷 Turkey9,000,000
🇷🇺 Russia7,000,000
🇧🇷 Brazil6,600,000
Rest of world67,000,000
Global total273,800,000

The global salt market was valued at $32.6 billion in 2022.

It’s projected to grow from $34.1 billion in 2023 to $48.6 billion by 2030, with a CAGR of 5.2% during the forecast period. This suggests a surprising amount of growth for what is one of the world’s oldest and most common commodities.

Facts About the U.S. Salt Industry

In the U.S., salt is produced by 25 companies, which operate 63 plants across 16 states.

The states that produce the most salt are Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Utah. Altogether, these states account for 95% of domestic production.

The primary uses of salt in the U.S. are highway de-icing (41%), chemical production (38%), and food processing (10%).

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