[PHOTOS] 10 minerals that make modern life work
Whether you realize it or not, mining is a fundamental part to our everyday lives. The industry supplies the necessary metals and minerals to make modern life work--serving critical roles in infrastructure, machinery, technology and health. We break down the top 10 minerals that hold the keys to life in the 21st century.
One of the most underrated minerals to exist, potash plays a central role in helping feed the ever growing population. Approximately 95 percent of the world’s potash production is used as fertilizer, with the remaining amount used for various chemicals. Derived from “pot ash,” which refers to plant ashes soaked in water in a pot, the mineral is produced worldwide and exceeds more than 30 million tons per year.
Along with various health reasons, zinc is vital for modern life because of its resistance to corrosion. Popular since the 10th century, the metal is used to make many useful alloys including lead, tin, brass and copper. Metallic zinc is also used to make dry cell batteries, roof cladding and die castings.
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Normally found in association with other base metals such as copper and lead in ores, zinc is the fourth most commonly used metal. It trails only iron, aluminum and copper, with an annual production of roughly 13 million tons.
Lithium, a soft, silvery metal, is the lowest density of all metals and is often made into alloys with aluminum and magnesium to improve their strength, including making them lighter.
Used in everything from mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras and electric vehicles, lithium is one of the most popular metals used in today’s modern life. In fact, with the rise in popularity for electric cars, the global consumption for lithium has more than doubled since 2012.
Although not technically a mineral, bauxite is formed from a laterite soil that has been severely leached of silica and other soluble materials in a wet tropical or subtropical climate. Bauxite is, however, widely used to make modern life work. It is primarily used to create aluminum.
Thanks to Tesla, cobalt is estimated to become the commodity of the future as it is widely expected to be used in the company’s new Powerwall innovation. This lustrous, silvery-blue metal is magnetic and is often alloyed with aluminum and nickel to make particularly powerful magnets.
Gold is the clear breadwinner when it comes to value. The precious metal, which is basically worshipped across the global, is primarily used for luxury purposes such jewelry and important objects like wedding rings, Olympic medals, Grammys, currency, etc. According to the World Gold Council, gold can also be used to solve certain environmental concerns.
Known for its rarity and value, silver has many uses in our modern day lives. Traditionally used for jewelry and silverware, this precious metal is also resistant to corrosion and oxidation, making it extremely useful for other industries. In addition, silver is the best thermal and electrical conductor of all the metals. Beat that,gold!
3. Iron ore
Iron ore is fundamental in creating railway tracks, which have long been a central part of daily life. Not only do they connect families and communities together, but they serve businesses by transporting products, services and freight needed to power the world.
Platinum serves a critical role in the circuit boards of medical apparatus, electrical gadgets and household gadgets, including fiber optic cables for telecommunication devices. The metal is also critical in keeping people alive, serving a huge role in pacemakers to transmit electrical impulses to stabilize heartbeats.
Copper is the most vital mineral to modern life, used in everything from electrical wiring in households and cars to the saucepans in our kitchens. Thanks to its antimicrobial properties, copper can even fight bacteria.
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The versatile metal can treat conditions like arthritis, cancer and heart disease, while also helping to make local economics run with copper-based coins. Since 3,000 B.C., copper has played a pivotal role in powering our daily lives and making the modern world work.
Net zero benefits the mining industry and the environment
How do we get the world to net-zero faster?
Emitwise’s founders, Mauro Cozzi, Eduardo Gómez and Ben Peddie, approached a network of more than 100 of the world's largest enterprises and asked their CEOs, CFOs, and sustainability managers the big question: How do we get the world to net-zero faster? The challenge many shared was the lack of timely and accurate emissions data to enable strategic decisions. Companies often relied on annual audits of their carbon footprint for carbon accounting purposes. However, static yearly results were outdated upon publishing.
Emitwise saves companies an average of 260 working days a year by automating their scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions data. With the added benefits of clean audit trails and auto-populated accounting reports in line with GHG Protocol, all at the click of a button. Their easy to use solution enables businesses to quickly identify the carbon hotspots to target, and the precise real-time data empowers teams to remain agile and respond effectively, making achieving those goals possible.
Unique AI Technology
Emitwise’s unique AI technology empowers businesses to automatically measure, report and reduce their carbon footprint across their operations and supply chain, future-proofing companies for a zero-carbon world. It is the only solution that enables companies to fully automate their carbon accounting across all business units and suppliers, therefore liberating them from the drudgery of collecting and processing emissions data.
By using artificial intelligence to precisely measure emissions in real-time, businesses can identify and tackle carbon hotspots swiftly, enabling them to devise a trackable roadmap to net-zero carbon. At the same time, accurate audit trails and auto-populated annual reports ensure that companies comply with international reporting requirements, and align businesses with global climate targets to mitigate risk across their operations and supply chain.
The Oren Marketplace
Environmental management, social license to operate, safety, renewable energy to lower emissions and operational efficiency for mining can be supported by a range of digital solutions enabling dynamic operations. To address these issues, Shell and IBM joined forces to create the Oren Marketplace – the first B2B solutions platform for the mining sector.
With the adoption of many of the digital solutions offered through Oren, mining companies can adapt in real-time to risks or adjust plans ahead of a problem occurring. The goal is a shift towards proactive management as the optimal outcome for all stakeholders – community, shareholders, and employees.
Emitwise was founded with the goal of helping industries across all sectors reduce their carbon footprint. Similarly, Shell aims to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, or sooner, in step with society and its customers. And Oren is focused on offering innovative products and services that can help mining companies track and reduce their emissions.
“Oren is the starting point for how we help our mining customers to de-carbonise,” explains Carol Chen, Global Lubricants Marketing, Vice President, Shell. “It’s our ambition to work with sectors like mining to help them find their own pathway to net-zero emissions through collaboration. The Oren marketplace offers a great opportunity for collaboration between the miners and technology companies that are joining this digital marketplace.”
Emitwise will be showcasing its vision for a net-zero future live from Lisbon at this year’s Web Summit. Bringing together the people and companies redefining the global tech industry, the online event welcomes 100,000+ attendees from around the world to hear from more than 800 speakers and view offerings from 2,500 startups covering a vast range of topics from Data Science and Climate Change to AI and Machine Learning. To find out more and book your ticket visit
Emitwise is one of many solutions providers on the Oren platform seeking to address the pain points and environmental concerns of heavy industries like mining. To discover a range of solutions that can further support your operation’s digital transformation and commitment to sustainability, visit the