The Rush For Jade in British Columbia
Infographic presented by Electra Stone
Many years ago, jade used to travel to China along the Silk Road. Today, more and more jade is being shipped across the Pacific Ocean from British Columbia.
China is the epicenter of jade demand and culture, and today’s infographic shows how jade is formed, the rush for BC jade, and how jade gets from the boulder to the market.
How Jade is Formed
Finding high-quality jade is extremely difficult, which is part of the reason it is so valuable. Jade is created in areas of the world that have subduction zones, such as around the Ring of Fire.
Subduction occurs when two tectonic plates collide and one is forced under the other. The elements are carried deep into the earth, where immense heat and pressure creates the necessary conditions for the formation of jade. This process takes 60 million years.
Most of the world’s jade forms in areas with this kind of intense geological activity. Xinjiang, home to China’s most important nephrite jade deposits, his near where the Indian plate is colliding with the Eurasian plate.
In British Columbia, the conditions are similar, and jade can now be found throughout Canada’s westernmost province. Specifically, there are three areas where today jade is mined: Dease Lake, Mount Ogden, and Cassiar.
The Jade Market
The global market for jade is dominated by Myanmar (formerly Burma) where the majority of jadeite is produced. The size of the reported jade market is largely dependent on data from Myanmar. Before conflict and mine shutdowns resumed in the country in 2011, jade sales were estimated to be $3.5 billion per year.
These shutdowns led to a supply gap in jade, and that is where British Columbia comes in: the production of BC jade has increased from 1.7% to 8.3% from 2011 to 2014.
A 2013 Harvard report put out a more in-depth assessment of the global jade market, and estimated it to be $8 billion.
The BC Jade Market is Booming
Demand for the most desired jade, which comes in an emperor green colour, has put significant price pressure on BC jade. Production of BC jade has doubled, and prices for gem quality jade have jumped to $200-$1,000 per kg.
From Source to Market
BC jade can be found in hard rock deposits or in alluvial boulders that have been moved by glaciers over time.
“New mine jade” refers to jade found in hard rock deposits. This is typically more weathered and more susceptible to cracking.
“Old mine jade” is jade that has been dragged by glaciers in boulder form. Only the best boulders survive, and typically these are of high quality.
Jade is similar to gold in that it can be found in a pure form in nuggets in streams and rivers. Often, the most ambitious Chinese buyers may fly in via helicopter to the northern jade sites to buy jade “off the bucket” in cash. This ensures the best quality jade and miners also benefit.
The jade then typically makes its way to a hub like Vancouver to get shipped overseas to China. China is by far the world’s largest market for jade, where it is considered a hard asset and a symbol of wealth, purity, and spirituality. China is also home to the most brilliant jade craftspeople in the world.
Finally, after sometimes years of intricate carving, the jade is sold in major retail centers like Hong Kong or Beijing. Once a finished product, the jade can sell for up to 10x its original price, creating wealth throughout the value chain.
As an example: the Polar Pride Boulder was carved into a massive Buddha and sold for $1 million in 2004.
Visualizing the Critical Metals in a Smartphone
Smartphones can contain ~80% of the stable elements on the periodic table. This graphic details the critical metals you carry in your pocket.
Visualizing the Critical Metals in a Smartphone
In an increasingly connected world, smartphones have become an inseparable part of our lives.
Over 60% of the world’s population owns a mobile phone and smartphone adoption continues to rise in developing countries around the world.
While each brand has its own mix of components, whether it’s a Samsung or an iPhone, most smartphones can carry roughly 80% of the stable elements on the periodic table.
But some of the vital metals to build these devices are considered at risk due to geological scarcity, geopolitical issues, and other factors.
|Smartphone Part||Critical Metal|
|Display||lanthanum; gadolinium; praseodymium; europium; terbium; dysprosium|
|Electronics||nickel, gallium, tantalum|
|Battery||lithium, nickel, cobalt|
|Microphone, speakers, vibration unit||nickel, praseodymium, neodymium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium|
What’s in Your Pocket?
This infographic based on data from the University of Birmingham details all the critical metals that you carry in your pocket with your smartphone.
1. Touch Screen
Screens are made up of multiple layers of glass and plastic, coated with a conductor material called indium which is highly conductive and transparent.
Indium responds when contacted by another electrical conductor, like our fingers.
When we touch the screen, an electric circuit is completed where the finger makes contact with the screen, changing the electrical charge at this location. The device registers this electrical charge as a “touch event”, then prompting a response.
Smartphones screens display images on a liquid crystal display (LCD). Just like in most TVs and computer monitors, a phone LCD uses an electrical current to adjust the color of each pixel.
Several rare earth elements are used to produce the colors on screen.
Smartphones employ multiple antenna systems, such as Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi.
The distance between these antenna systems is usually small making it extremely difficult to achieve flawless performance. Capacitors made of the rare, hard, blue-gray metal tantalum are used for filtering and frequency tuning.
Nickel is also used in capacitors and in mobile phone electrical connections. Another silvery metal, gallium, is used in semiconductors.
4. Microphone, Speakers, Vibration Unit
Nickel is used in the microphone diaphragm (that vibrates in response to sound waves).
Alloys containing rare earths neodymium, praseodymium and gadolinium are used in the magnets contained in the speaker and microphone. Neodymium, terbium and dysprosium are also used in the vibration unit.
There are many materials used to make phone cases, such as plastic, aluminum, carbon fiber, and even gold. Commonly, the cases have nickel to reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI) and magnesium alloys for EMI shielding.
Unless you bought your smartphone a decade ago, your device most likely carries a lithium-ion battery, which is charged and discharged by lithium ions moving between the negative (anode) and positive (cathode) electrodes.
Smartphones will naturally evolve as consumers look for ever-more useful features. Foldable phones, 5G technology with higher download speeds, and extra cameras are just a few of the changes expected.
As technology continues to improve, so will the demand for the metals necessary for the next generation of smartphones.
This post was originally featured on Elements
Silver Through the Ages: The Uses of Silver Over Time
The uses of silver span various industries, from renewable energy to jewelry. See how the uses of silver have evolved in this infographic.
Silver is one of the most versatile metals on Earth, with a unique combination of uses both as a precious and industrial metal.
Today, silver’s uses span many modern technologies, including solar panels, electric vehicles, and 5G devices. However, the uses of silver in currency, medicine, art, and jewelry have helped advance civilization, trade, and technology for thousands of years.
The Uses of Silver Over Time
The below infographic from Blackrock Silver takes us on a journey of silver’s uses through time, from the past to the future.
3,000 BC – The Middle Ages
The earliest accounts of silver can be traced to 3,000 BC in modern-day Turkey, where its mining spurred trade in the ancient Aegean and Mediterranean seas. Traders and merchants would use hacksilver—rough-cut pieces of silver—as a medium of exchange for goods and services.
Around 1,200 BC, the Ancient Greeks began refining and minting silver coins from the rich deposits found in the mines of Laurion just outside Athens. By 100 BC, modern-day Spain became the center of silver mining for the Roman Empire while silver bullion traveled along the Asian spice trade routes. By the late 1400s, Spain brought its affinity for silver to the New World where it uncovered the largest deposits of silver in history in the dusty hills of Bolivia.
Besides the uses of silver in commerce, people also recognized silver’s ability to fight bacteria. For instance, wine and food containers were often made out of silver to prevent spoilage. In addition, during breakouts of the Bubonic plague in medieval and renaissance Europe, people ate and drank with silver utensils to protect themselves from disease.
The 1800s – 2000s
New medicinal uses of silver came to light in the 19th and 20th centuries. Surgeons stitched post-operative wounds with silver sutures to reduce inflammation. In the early 1900s, doctors prescribed silver nitrate eyedrops to prevent conjunctivitis in newborn babies. Furthermore, in the 1960s, NASA developed a water purifier that dispensed silver ions to kill bacteria and purify water on its spacecraft.
The Industrial Revolution drove the onset of silver’s industrial applications. Thanks to its high light sensitivity and reflectivity, it became a key ingredient in photographic films, windows, and mirrors. Even today, skyscraper windows are often coated with silver to reflect sunlight and keep interior spaces cool.
The 2000s – Present
The uses of silver have come a long way since hacksilver and utensils, evolving with time and technology.
Silver is the most electrically conductive metal, making it a natural choice for electronic devices. Almost every electronic device with a switch or button contains silver, from smartphones to electric vehicles. Solar panels also utilize silver as a conductive layer in photovoltaic cells to transport and store electricity efficiently.
In addition, it has several medicinal applications that range from treating burn wounds and ulcers to eliminating bacteria in air conditioning systems and clothes.
Silver for the Future
Silver has always been useful to industries and technologies due to its unique properties, from its antibacterial nature to high electrical conductivity. Today, silver is critical for the next generation of renewable energy technologies.
For every age, silver proves its value.
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