[VIDEO] 3 Minerals that Make Modern Life Work
The metals and minerals produced by the mining industry play a fundamental role in our everyday lives. From the copper wires transmitting electricity into our homes, to the minerals used in our smartphones, the following three minerals hold the keys to life in the 21st century.
Not only is platinum one of the oldest and rarest elements on the planet, but it’s one of the most sought-after metals for electronics. 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.
According to Rio Tinto, platinum is important part of our everyday lives.
“For example, on the roads, catalytic converters use platinum to turn unburned vehicle exhaust fumes into carbon dioxide and steam. In our homes, everyday appliances like fridges are made from plastics and synthetic rubbers chemically created using platinum. And in the medical profession, platinum-based drugs are prescribed to slow the spread of cancer cells for chemotherapy patients.”
Although the price of iron ore may be in decline, the need for this mineral is indispensable.
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.
According to the National Mining Association, iron ore is vital in manufacturing steels of various types.
“Powdered iron: used in metallurgy products; magnets; high-frequency cores; auto parts; catalyst. Radioactive iron (iron 59): in medicine; tracer element in biochemical and metallurgical research. Iron blue: in paints, printing inks, plastics, cosmetics, paper dyeing. Black iron oxide: as pigment; in polishing compounds; metallurgy; medicine; magnetic inks.”
Most U.S. iron ore production is from Michigan and Minnesota. Major global producers include China, Australia, Brazil and Russia.
You think copper is only used for pennies? Think again. The metal, which is vital to so many aspects of modern life, is 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.
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 BC, copper has played a pivotal role in powering our daily lives and making the modern world work.
Global iron ore production to recover by 5.1% in 2021
Global iron ore production fell by 3% to 2.2bnt in 2020. Global production is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7% to 2,663.4Mt between 2021 to 2025. The key contributors to this grow will be Brazil (6.2%), South Africa (4.1%), Australia (3.2%) and India (2.9%). Key upcoming projects expected to commence operations include South Flank in Australia (2021), Zulti in South Africa (H2 2021), Serrote Da Laje in Brazil (H2 2021) and Gudai-Darri (2022), according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, comments: “Declines from Brazil and India were major contributors to the reduced output in 2020. Combined production from these two countries fell from a collective 638.2Mt in 2019 to an estimated 591.1Mt in 2020. The reduced output from the iron ore giant, Vale, was the key factor behind Brazil’s reduced output, while delays in the auctioning of mines in Odisha affected India’s output in 2020.
“Miners in Australia were relatively unaffected by COVID-19 due to effective measures adopted by the Australian Government, while a speedy recovery in China led to a significant 10.4% increase in the country’s iron ore output.”
Looking ahead, the global iron ore production is expected to increase by 111.3Mt to 2,302.5Mt in 2021. Rio Tinto is expected to produce up to 340Mt of iron ore, while BHP has released production guidance of 245–255Mt, supported by the start of the Samarco project in December, which is expected to produce between 1–2Mt.The company has retained its guidance for Australian mines at 276–286Mt on a 100% basis, due to scheduled maintenance work at its ore handling plant and tie-in activity at the Area C mine and South-Flank mine.
Bajaj added: “The remaining companies are expected to produce more than 600Mt of iron ore, including FMG, whose production is expected to range between 175–180Mt supported by its Eliwana mine that commenced operations in late December 2020, and Anglo American, which is expecting to produce between 64–67Mt. Vale is expected to resume 40Mt of its production capacity, taking its overall production capacity to 350Mt in 2021, with production guidance of 315-335Mt.”