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All the World’s Metals and Minerals in One Visualization

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All the World's Metals and Minerals

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All the World’s Metals and Minerals in One Visualization

We live in a material world, in that we rely on materials to make our lives better. Without even realizing it, humans consume enormous amounts of metals and minerals with every convenient food package, impressive building, and technological innovation.

Every year, the United States Geological Service (USGS) publishes commodity summaries outlining global mining statistics for over 90 individual minerals and materials. Today’s infographic visualizes the data to reveal the dramatic scale of 2019 non-fuel mineral production.

Read all the way to the bottom; the data will surprise you.

Non-Fuel Minerals: USGS Methodology

A wide variety of minerals can be classified as “non-fuel”, including precious metals, base metals, industrial minerals, and materials used for construction.

Non-fuel minerals are those not used for fuel, such as oil, natural gas and coal. Once non-fuel minerals are used up, there is no replacing them. However, many can be recycled continuously.

The USGS tracked both refinery and mine production of these various minerals. This means that some minerals are the essential ingredients for others on the list. For example, iron ore is critical for steel production, and bauxite ore gets refined into aluminum.

Top 10 Minerals and Metals by Production

Sand and gravel are at the top of the list of non-fuel mineral production.

As these materials are the basic components for the manufacturing of concrete, roads, and buildings, it’s not surprising they take the lead.

RankMetal/Mineral2019 Production (millions of metric tons)
#1Sand and Gravel50,000
#2Cement4,100
#3Iron and Steel3,200
#4Iron Ore2,500
#5Bauxite500
#6Lime430
#7Salt293
#8Phosphate Rock240
#9Nitrogen150
#10Gypsum140

These materials fertilize the food we eat, and they also form the structures we live in and the roads we drive on. They are the bones of the global economy.

Let’s dive into some more specific categories covered on the infographic.

Base Metals

While cement, sand, and gravel may be the bones of global infrastructure, base metals are its lifeblood. Their consumption is an important indicator of the overall health of an economy.

Base metals are non-ferrous, meaning they contain no iron. They are often more abundant in nature and sometimes easier to mine, so their prices are generally lower than precious metals.

RankBase Metal2019 Production (millions of metric tons)
#1Aluminum64.0
#2Copper20.0
#3Zinc13.0
#4Lead4.5
#5Nickel2.7
#6Tin0.3

Base metals are also the critical materials that will help to deliver a green and renewable future. The electrification of everything will require vast amounts of base metals to make everything from batteries to solar cells work.

Precious Metals

Gold and precious metals grab the headlines because of their rarity ⁠— and their production shows just how rare they are.

RankPrecious Metal2019 Production (metric tons)
#1Silver27,000
#2Gold3,300
#3Palladium210
#4Platinum180

While metals form the structure and veins of the global economy, ultimately it is humans and animals that make the flesh of the world, driving consumption patterns.

A Material World: A Perspective on Scale

The global economy’s appetite for materials has quadrupled since 1970, faster than the population, which only doubled. On average, each human uses more than 13 metric tons of materials per year.

In 2017, it’s estimated that humans consumed 100.6B metric tons of material in total. Half of the total comprises sand, clay, gravel, and cement used for building, along with the other minerals mined to produce fertilizer. Coal, oil, and gas make up 15% of the total, while metal makes up 10%. The final quarter are plants and trees used for food and fuel.

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Economy

Where U.S. Inflation Hit the Hardest in March 2024

We visualized product categories that saw the highest % increase in price due to U.S. inflation as of March 2024.

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Where U.S. Inflation Hit the Hardest (March 2024)

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.

The latest U.S. inflation figures were released in early April, revealing that the consumer price index (CPI) had risen by 3.5% in March 2024, on an annual basis. This is unfortunately higher than the 3.2% logged in February, showing once again how stubborn inflation has been post-pandemic.

To add context to these figures, we’ve visualized CPI categories that became significantly more expensive from March 2023 to March 2024. All figures come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which regularly posts CPI figures.

Data and Highlights

The data we used to create this graphic is listed in the table below.

ItemYoY Change (%)
📀 Video discs + other media30.1
🥤 Juice + drinks27.5
🚗 Motor vehicle insurance22.2
🔧 Repair of household items18
🏠 Home care of invalids + elderly14.2
🚗 Motor vehicle repair11.6
🥩 Beef roasts11.2
👶 Baby food + formula9.9
🐾 Veterinarian services9.6
⚖️ Legal services8.8
🏥 Outpatient hospital services8.3
📊 All items average3.5

Prices of “video discs and other media” rose by a substantial 30.1% year-over-year as of March 2024, highlighting rising demand for physical media such as vinyl records.

According to an article from The Guardian, U.S. vinyl sales rose 21.7% in the first half of 2023, driven by artists like Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, and Fleetwood Mac. Swift’s latest album, Midnights, sold nearly 500,000 vinyl copies throughout the entire year.

Another category that rose significantly was “juice and drinks”, at 27.5%. This rise in cost has been attributed to numerous factors including sugar shortages, increased transportation costs, and diseases affecting orange trees in Florida.

See more graphics on inflation

If you enjoyed this post, check out this graphic on inflation rates across the G20. For each country, we compared inflation rates in February 2024 to their COVID-19 peak.

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