MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Re: What are the five most mined metals in the world by gross tonnage?

Date: Fri Feb 6 07:15:10 2004
Posted By: Dave Clark, Staff, Chemical and Environmental Technologies, Battelle
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 1075724245.Es

Here is an answer I got from Mr. Dick Gibson, a geologist with the World 
Museum of Mining in Butte, Montana. 

A good question. The way I attacked it was to first look up US 
consumption of minerals per capita, which should be an 
approximation of world production.  There are lots of tables that 
show such info -- one is at:

The greatest tonnage of non-fuel minerals used (US only) is, in 
order from most to least:  Crushed Stone, Sand & Gravel, Salt, 
Gypsum, Phosphate, Potash, Iron Ore, Aluminum, Zinc, Lead, and 

Focusing on the metals alone, I checked the US Geological 
Survey's Minerals Yearbook (it is online somewhere, I used the CD 
that I have which is up to date as of 2000).  That gave me the 
following world production for those five metals.  Note that 
there are always differing ways of looking at things, e.g., 
production at the mine vs production at the smelter or at the 
refinery, and Iron is usually reported as pig iron and raw steel. 
  Anyway, here is the info:

Worldwide metal production for 2000:

Iron: Pig iron - 541,000,000 metric tons
Iron: raw steel - 781,000,000 metric tons

Aluminum - 24,000,000 metric tons

Copper (mine) - 13,200,000 metric tons

Zinc (mine) - 8,730,000 metric tons

Lead (mine) - 3,100,000 metric tons.

Hope this helps -
dick gibson

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