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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%

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
Manganese Ore56,600,00027%
Chromium Ores and Concentrates38,600,00019%
Titanium (Titanium Dioxide Content)6,300,0003%
Zirconium Minerals (Zircon)1,337,0001%

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
Rare Earth Elements220,00016%
Platinum Group Metals4570.03%

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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Ranked: The World’s Top Diamond Mining Countries, by Carats and Value

Who are the leaders in rough diamond production and how much is their diamond output worth?



A cropped chart showing the leaders in rough diamond mining and how much their diamond output is worth.

Ranked: World Diamond Mining By Country, Carat, and Value

Only 22 countries in the world engage in rough diamond production—also known as uncut, raw or natural diamonds—mining for them from deposits within their territories.

This chart, by Sam Parker illustrates the leaders in rough diamond production by weight and value. It uses data from Kimberly Process (an international certification organization) along with estimates by Dr. Ashok Damarupurshad, a precious metals and diamond specialist in South Africa.

Rough Diamond Production, By Weight

Russia takes the top spot as the world’s largest rough diamond producer, mining close to 42 million carats in 2022, well ahead of its peers.

ℹ️ Carat is the unit of measurement for the physical weight of diamonds. One carat equals 0.200 grams, which means it takes over 2,265 carats to equal 1 pound.

Russia’s large lead over second-place Botswana (24.8 million carats) and third-ranked Canada (16.2 million carats) indicates that the country’s diamond production is circumventing sanctions due to the difficulties in tracing a diamond’s origin.

Here’s a quick breakdown of rough diamond production in the world.

RankCountryRough Diamond
Production (Carats)
1🇷🇺 Russia41,923,910
2🇧🇼 Botswana24,752,967
3🇨🇦 Canada16,249,218
4🇨🇩 DRC9,908,998
5🇿🇦 South Africa9,660,233
6🇦🇴 Angola8,763,309
7🇿🇼 Zimbabwe4,461,450
8🇳🇦 Namibia2,054,227
9🇱🇸 Lesotho727,737
10🇸🇱 Sierra Leone688,970
11🇹🇿 Tanzania375,533
12🇧🇷 Brazil158,420
13🇬🇳 Guinea128,771
14🇨🇫 Central
African Republic
15🇬🇾 Guyana83,382
16🇬🇭 Ghana82,500
17🇱🇷 Liberia52,165
18🇨🇮 Cote D'Ivoire3,904
19🇨🇬 Republic of Congo3,534
20🇨🇲 Cameroon2,431
21🇻🇪 Venezuela1,665
22🇲🇱 Mali92

Note: South Africa’s figures are estimated.

As with most other resources, (oil, gold, uranium), rough diamond production is distributed unequally. The top 10 rough diamond producing countries by weight account for 99.2% of all rough diamonds mined in 2022.

Diamond Mining, by Country

However, higher carat mined doesn’t necessarily mean better value for the diamond. Other factors like the cut, color, and clarity also influence a diamond’s value.

Here’s a quick breakdown of diamond production by value (USD) in 2022.

RankCountryRough Diamond
Value (USD)
1🇧🇼 Botswana$4,975M
2🇷🇺 Russia$3,553M
3🇦🇴 Angola$1,965M
4🇨🇦 Canada$1,877M
5🇿🇦 South Africa$1,538M
6🇳🇦 Namibia$1,234M
7🇿🇼 Zimbabwe$424M
8🇱🇸 Lesotho$314M
9🇸🇱 Sierra Leone$143M
10🇹🇿 Tanzania$110M
11🇨🇩 DRC$65M
12🇧🇷 Brazil$30M
13🇱🇷 Liberia$18M
14🇨🇫 Central
African Republic
15🇬🇾 Guyana$14M
16🇬🇳 Guinea$6M
17🇬🇭 Ghana$3M
18🇨🇲 Cameroon$0.25M
19🇨🇬 Republic of Congo$0.20M
20🇨🇮 Cote D'Ivoire$0.16M
21🇻🇪 Venezuela$0.10M
22🇲🇱 Mali$0.06M

Note: South Africa’s figures are estimated. Furthermore, numbers have been rounded and may not sum to the total.

Thus, even though Botswana only produced 59% of Russia’s diamond weight in 2022, it had a trade value of nearly $5 billion, approximately 1.5 times higher than Russia’s for the same year.

Another example is Angola, which is ranked 6th in diamond production, but 3rd in diamond value.

Both countries (as well as South Africa, Canada, and Namibia) produce gem-quality rough diamonds versus countries like Russia and the DRC whose diamonds are produced mainly for industrial use.

Which Regions Produce the Most Diamonds in 2022?

Unsurprisingly, Africa is the largest rough diamond producing region, accounting for 51% of output by weight, and 66% by value.

RankRegionShare of Rough
Diamond Production (%)
Share of Rough
Diamond Value (%)
3North America13.5%52.8%
4South America0.2%2.4%

However diamond mining in Africa is a relatively recent phenomenon, fewer than 200 years old. Diamonds had been discovered—and prized—as far back as 2,000 years ago in India, later on spreading west to Egyptian pharaohs and the Roman Empire.

By the start of the 20th century, diamond production on a large scale took off: first in South Africa, and decades later in other African countries. In fact between 1889–1959, Africa produced 98% of the world’s diamonds.

And in the latter half of the 20th century, the term blood diamond evolved from diamonds mined in African conflict zones used to finance insurgency or crime.

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