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Boron: Making Modern Life Possible

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Boron: Making Modern Life Possible

Boron: Making Modern Life Possible

When it comes to modern living, there are so many things we take for granted.

We sleep in warm and comfortable houses, while keeping our food fresh and refrigerated. We have screens in our pockets and throughout our homes that help us to connect with our friends and family – and we can drive across town in minutes to see them, if need be.

Oddly enough, many of these subtle aspects of modern living would not be possible without the existence of very specific minerals and the developments in technology that allow them to be used to their full potential.

Enter Boron

Boron is an unlikely hero in this regard.

Today’s infographic comes from 20 Mule Team Borax, and it covers the properties, applications, market, and future trends surrounding boron. And even though you probably didn’t know much about this metalloid element before today, you’ll soon see that boron’s versatile applications make it an integral part of modern life in many ways:

In fact, boron has an incredible range of properties and uses that make it interesting to us humans:

  • It’s an essential micronutrient for plants
  • It improves the performance of cleaning products
  • It captures neutrons, making nuclear reactors safer
  • It absorbs infrared light, useful for energy efficiency
  • Boron limits growth of bacteria and fungi on wood products
  • It helps to balance acidity and alkalinity
  • Boron makes glass resistant to heat or chemicals
  • Boron prevents corrosion in many settings
  • It be used to make advanced materials
  • It can be used in materials and coatings to suppress flames
  • Boron can be added to steel or aluminum, or used in super-magnets
  • It can link alcohols and carbohydrates together in oil recovery

As a result of this vast array of applications, boron is used in everything from smartphone screens to fertilizer.

Small amounts of boron sit in the walls and ceiling of your home, your kitchen, your bathroom, and your driveway – and it’s even in a lot of food since it is an essential micronutrient for plants.

Future Megatrends

There are three megatrends that are driving future boron consumption: urbanization, energy, and agriculture.

Urbanization
By 2025, China will have 221 cities with over 1 million people. Boron is heavily used in cities and buildings, in applications such as glazed ceramics, LCD televisions and electronics, appliances, and textile fiberglass.

Agriculture
Because boron helps regulate the reproductive cycle of plants, it is needed to help maximize food production for a growing population. In India, the use of boron and other micronutrients is being supported by government projects and subsidies to ensure that farmers increase productivity.

Energy
Boron is also used in energy saving applications such as insulation, which will be key as green building practices are encouraged throughout the world. Borates are also used to create the high-powered magnets in applications like wind turbines, making them even more important for a green future.

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Batteries

Ranked: The World’s Largest Lithium Producers in 2023

Three countries account for almost 90% of the lithium produced in the world.

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Voronoi graphic showing the top lithium producers in 2023.

The World’s Largest Lithium Producers 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.

Three countries—Australia, Chile, and China—accounted for 88% of lithium production in 2023.

In this graphic, we list the world’s leading countries in terms of lithium production. These figures come from the latest USGS publication on lithium statistics (published Jan 2024).

Australia Leads, China Approaches Chile

Australia, the world’s leading producer, extracts lithium directly from hard-rock mines, specifically from the mineral spodumene.

The country saw a big jump in output over the last decade. In 2013, Australia produced 13,000 metric tons of lithium, compared to 86,000 metric tons in 2023.

RankCountryLithium production 2023E (metric tons)
1🇦🇺 Australia86,000
2🇨🇱 Chile44,000
3🇨🇳 China33,000
4🇦🇷 Argentina9,600
5🇧🇷 Brazil4,900
6🇨🇦 Canada3,400
7🇿🇼 Zimbabwe3,400
8🇵🇹 Portugal380
🌍 World Total184,680

Chile is second in rank but with more modest growth. Chilean production rose from 13,500 tonnes in 2013 to 44,000 metric tons in 2023. Contrary to Australia, the South American country extracts lithium from brine.

China, which also produces lithium from brine, has been approaching Chile over the years. The country increased its domestic production from 4,000 metric tons in 2013 to 33,000 last year.

Chinese companies have also increased their ownership shares in lithium producers around the globe; three Chinese companies are also among the top lithium mining companies. The biggest, Tianqi Lithium, has a significant stake in Greenbushes, the world’s biggest hard-rock lithium mine in Australia.

Argentina, the fourth country on our list, more than tripled its production over the last decade and has received investments from other countries to increase its output.

With all the top producers increasing output to cover the demand from the clean energy industry, especially for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, the lithium market has seen a surplus recently, which caused prices to collapse by more than 80% from a late-2022 record high.

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