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The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns

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The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns

The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns

At the beginning of each year, U.S. Global Investors puts out a fantastic visualization called the Periodic Table of Commodity Returns. This year’s version has an interactive design that allows users to sort returns by various categories including returns, volatility, and other groupings.

For those keeping score, 2015 was a historically bad year for commodities in almost every regard.

Base Metals: The fact that lead was the best performing commodity with -3.5% returns throughout 2015 is not a good sign. However, compared to its fellow base metals such as copper (-26.1%), zinc (-26.5%), aluminum (-17.8%), and nickel (-41.8%), lead did wonderfully in comparison.

Precious Metals: Gold held in there as a relative top-performer with only a -10.4% dip. That said, it’s started off 2016 with a nice rally so far. Silver, platinum, and palladium did worse in 2015, all returning -11.8%, -26.1%, and -29.4% respectively.

Energy: The worst performing commodity of 2014 was the second-worst performing commodity of 2015. Oil was been routed in the last two years, with -45.6% and -30.5% returns respectively. Other fossil fuels have followed, with natural gas (-19.1%) and coal (-10.8%) both losing ground in 2015 as well.

Food: Corn was among the “best” performers, returning -9.6%. Wheat struggled more throughout 2015, returning -20.3%.

Deflating commodity prices also compounded with a strengthening dollar to hit currency markets hard, allowing Bitcoin to become the best performing currency of 2015 by far. Countries heavily reliant on commodity exports such as Canada, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Australia, Norway, and South Africa had their currencies hammered in relation to the U.S. dollar.

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Energy

Charted: Global Uranium Reserves, by Country

We visualize the distribution of the world’s uranium reserves by country, with 3 countries accounting for more than half of total reserves.

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A cropped chart visualizing the distribution of the global uranium reserves, by country.

Charted: Global Uranium Reserves, by Country

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.

There can be a tendency to believe that uranium deposits are scarce from the critical role it plays in generating nuclear energy, along with all the costs and consequences related to the field.

But uranium is actually fairly plentiful: it’s more abundant than gold and silver, for example, and about as present as tin in the Earth’s crust.

We visualize the distribution of the world’s uranium resources by country, as of 2021. Figures come from the World Nuclear Association, last updated on August 2023.

Ranked: Uranium Reserves By Country (2021)

Australia, Kazakhstan, and Canada have the largest shares of available uranium resources—accounting for more than 50% of total global reserves.

But within these three, Australia is the clear standout, with more than 1.7 million tonnes of uranium discovered (28% of the world’s reserves) currently. Its Olympic Dam mine, located about 600 kilometers north of Adelaide, is the the largest single deposit of uranium in the world—and also, interestingly, the fourth largest copper deposit.

Despite this, Australia is only the fourth biggest uranium producer currently, and ranks fifth for all-time uranium production.

CountryShare of Global
Reserves
Uranium Reserves (Tonnes)
🇦🇺 Australia28%1.7M
🇰🇿 Kazakhstan13%815K
🇨🇦 Canada10%589K
🇷🇺 Russia8%481K
🇳🇦 Namibia8%470K
🇿🇦 South Africa5%321K
🇧🇷 Brazil5%311K
🇳🇪 Niger5%277K
🇨🇳 China4%224K
🇲🇳 Mongolia2%145K
🇺🇿 Uzbekistan2%131K
🇺🇦 Ukraine2%107K
🌍 Rest of World9%524K
Total100%6M

Figures are rounded.

Outside the top three, Russia and Namibia both have roughly the same amount of uranium reserves: about 8% each, which works out to roughly 470,000 tonnes.

South Africa, Brazil, and Niger all have 5% each of the world’s total deposits as well.

China completes the top 10, with a 3% share of uranium reserves, or about 224,000 tonnes.

A caveat to this is that current data is based on known uranium reserves that are capable of being mined economically. The total amount of the world’s uranium is not known exactly—and new deposits can be found all the time. In fact the world’s known uranium reserves increased by about 25% in the last decade alone, thanks to better technology that improves exploration efforts.

Meanwhile, not all uranium deposits are equal. For example, in the aforementioned Olympic Dam, uranium is recovered as a byproduct of copper mining occurring at the same site. In South Africa, it emerges as a byproduct during treatment of ores in the gold mining process. Orebodies with high concentrations of two substances can increase margins, as costs can be shared for two different products.

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