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 Global Metal Production and Prices
    Publisher: Kaiser Research Online
    Author: Copyright 2010 John A Kaiser

 

Global Metal Production and Prices

Annual metal value is based on total annual production multiplied by the average commodity price based on daily or monthly average prices when available, and when not on the annual average price reported by the USGS.

Aluminum (Bauxite and Alumina)
USGS (bauxite) (also aluminum): Aluminum (see Wikipedia) is the most abundant element in the earth's crust, but because it is highly reactive it occurs mostly as an oxide or silicate, from which to extract aluminum metal requires a very high energy input. Commercial production is only achieved with bauxite ore, which is found in tropical regions where sustained weathering of surface rocks involving heavy rainfall and high temperatures has created a laterite deposit consisting of enriched iron and aluminum. These deposits are generally only a few metres thick and are strip mined for shipment to aluminum smelters located in regions which have access to cheap electricity. Bauxite deposits exist all over the world as geological remnants of ancient climates, but mining is restricted to currently tropical regions where the bauxite ore formed more recently and is readily available for low cost bulk mining. Aluminum is considered a non-ferrous base metal whose production is dictated by economic logic and whose bauxite distribution is sufficiently widespread to rule out security of supply concerns. Aluminum demand is a function of the global business cycle. Aluminum recycling is easy and represents a significant supply to annual demand. China has the largest smelting capacity at 19 million tonnes, followed by Russia at 5,150,000 tonnes, the USA at 3,500,000 tonnes, Canada at 3,090,00 tonnes, India at 2,000,000 tonnes, Australia at 1,970,000 tonnes and Brazil at 1,700,000 tonnes. Of these only Australia, China, Russia, Brazil and India have domestic bauxite supply. Before bauxite can be converted into aluminum it must first be converted into smelter grade alumina (SGA), which is done using the Bayer Process frequently in the country where the bauxite is mined because of the caustic "red mud" waste product. The Bayer Process is also energy intensive, so in some cases it is more cost effective to ship bauxite ore, which grades in excess of 40% Al2O3, to countries with cheap electricity. The alumina production data reflects the country where bauxite is converted into alumina, which may in turn be shipped onwards to countries with aluminum refining capacity. No reserves are provided for alumina, although vast alumina (Al2O3) resources exist in clay deposits as well as high silica ores such as nepheline which cannot be cost effectively processed with the Bayer Process. Developing a cheap way to extract alumina from these alternative deposits where located close to cheap electricity and established refining capacity has been the holy grail of the aluminum industry for a century because of the potential to reduce the vulnerability to shipping time and crude oil volatility.



Antimony
USGS: Antimony (see Wikipedia) is mainly used as a hardening alloy in lead batteries and as a flame retardant though uses in the electronics sector are emerging. Battery recycling results in significant antimony supply from recycling. The main ore source is the sulphide mineral stibnite. The largest primary mine source is Xikuangshan Mine in China's Hunan Province. See Jack Lifton for more background. China's domination of antimony supply raises security of supply issues.

Beryllium
USGS: Beryllium (see Wikipedia) is a lightweight metal with a high melting point, excellent thermal conductivity, and strength over a wide temperature range. As such it is ideal in applications involving extreme conditions such as aerospace, the military and nuclear energy. Global production is dominated by Brush Engineered Materials Inc (BW-NYSE), which sources primary metal from its Spor Mountain bertrandite deposit in Utah (2007 resource estimate: 5,920,000 tonnes 0.266% Be). Brush blends its low grade bertrandite ore with beryl imported from Mozambique, Brazil and Madagascar as well as from Kazakhstan's JSC Ulba Metallurgical Plant, a subsidiary of Kazatomprom, which inherited a stockpile of beryllium concentrate from the former Soviet Union. Ulba supplies about a third of global demand. Beryl, which contains 4% beryllium compared to 1% for bertrandite, is a mineral which can take gem forms known as aquamarine and emerald. Beryllium is mainly sold in the form of a copper-beryllium master alloy. China is a producer of beryllium oxide ore though production data is not published. The application market for beryllium is limited by its high price, which is dictated by the low grade nature of Brush's Spor Mountain deposit. The US Department of Defense maintains a National Defense Stockpile of 83 tons of contained beryllium in the form of beryl ore, beryllium copper master alloy and beryllium metal. Beryllium in powder form is toxic when inhaled by a minority of people with a genetic disposition to a severe allergic reaction. Beryllium oxide mineralization often occurs within the same peralkaline intrusive complexes that host a broad range of rare earth elements, including the so-called "heavy" elements. A surge in beryllium by-product supply from rare earth deposits brought on stream to supply the needs of green energy related rare earth demand growth could lower the price of beryllium which could expand the application market dramatically. This pegmatite related potential supply is not well quantified. The USGS estimates that non-pegmatite deposits in Utah and Alaska's Seward Peninsula represent about 65% of global beryllium reserves of 80,000 tons.

Bismuth
USGS: Bismuth (see Wikipedia) has a wide variety of uses as an alloying compound, a non-toxic substitute for lead in solder, pigments, and in the pharmaceutical industry. Since 1998 lead based solders may no longer be used to solder piping that delivers drinking water. Bismuth is produced as a refining by-product of lead-zinc concentrates. The only primary bismuth mine, the Tasna Mine in Bolivia, is mothballed.

Chromite
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Cobalt
USGS: Cobalt (see Wikipedia) is used in superalloys (jet engines and gas turbines), pigments, batteries, chemical processes as a catalyst, and medical radiation technologies. It is recovered as by-product of nickel laterite mines, nickel-copper sulphide mines, and the copper-cobalt deposits of the Congo. Cobalt is also a significant component of ocean floor manganese nodules whose commercial exploitation potential has not yet been established. As a base metal by-product cobalt supply is tied to the global business cycle, and is vulnerable to the geopolitical risk associated with the Congo.

Copper
USGS

Diamonds
Kimberley Process N/A

Gallium
Not Available
USGS: Gallium (see Wikipedia) is primarily produced as a by-product of processing bauxite to produce aluminum and from smelting zinc concentrates. The gallium production figures provided by the USGS thus do not represent bedrock mining based production but rather byproduct production from the refining of imported bauxite or zinc concentrates. The average grade of gallium in bauxite is 50 ppm and its recovery involves proprietary methods which recover only part of the contained metal. Primary production in 2008 was 95 tonnes, with another 40 tonnes produced through recycling. At an average price of $560 per kg the consumption in 2008 representing 135,000 kg had a value of US $76 million. The USGS estimates that 65% of US consumption is for integrated circuits while the rest is for optical electronic components which includes LEDs and solar cells, an area seen as a major potential demand growth driver. The USGS does not provide global resource data because bauxite and gallium bearing zinc ores are widely distributed throughout the world and no primary gallium production takes place.

Germanium
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Gold
USGS

Graphite
USGS: (see Wikipedia)
Indium
Not Available
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Iron
USGS

Lead
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Lithium
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Magnesium
Not Available
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Manganese
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Molybdenum
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Nickel
USGS

Niobium
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Palladium
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Platinum
USGS: (see Wikipedia)
Rhodium: (see Wikipedia)

Phosphate
USGS: (see Wikipedia)
Potash
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Rare Earth Oxides
USGS: (see Wikipedia) Not Available
Lanthanum: (see Wikipedia)
Cerium: (see Wikipedia)
Praseodymium: (see Wikipedia)
Neodymium: (see Wikipedia)
Samarium: (see Wikipedia)
Europium: (see Wikipedia)
Gadolinium: (see Wikipedia)
Terbium: (see Wikipedia)
Dysprosium: (see Wikipedia)
Yttrium: (see Wikipedia)

Rhenium
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Selenium
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Silicon
Not Available
USGS: (see Wikipedia)Silicon is supplied as ferrosilicon or silicon metal which is manufactured from silica, a common mineral abundant throughout the world. China is the dominant supplier thanks to a low cost structure. Ferrosilicon represents 80% of market demand in terms of weight. It is an alloy of silicon and iron ranging 15% to 90% silicon that is made by reducing silica with coke in the presence of iron, usually scrap. Silicon is used mainly by the aluminum and chemical industries, with the semi-conductor and solar industries using only a small fraction in the form of high purity silicon metal. 50% ferrosilicon averaged $0.68/lb and silicon metal $1.20/lb during 2009.

Silver
USGS

Tantalum
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Tellurium
USGS: Tellurium (see Wikipedia) is a by-product of electrolytic refining of copper. The USGS withholds tellurium data for the production from the ASARCO facility in Amarillo, Texas, but older issues indicate production was at a level of about 50 tonnes per year. A detailed backgrounder on tellurium is available through the 1999 report on Assessment of Critical Thin Film Resources. Virtually no recycling of tellurium is done because its use is "dissipative".

Tin
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Titanium
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Tungsten
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Uranium
USGS

Vanadium
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

Zinc
USGS: Zinc (see Wikipedia) is primarily used for galvanizing and as an alloy input, with some being used by the agriculture, chemical, paint and rubber industries. Zinc is readily recovered through recycling of galvanized scrap metal.

Zirconium
USGS: (see Wikipedia)

 
 

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