Nickel resists corrosion and can withstand very high temperatures. It is commonly used in alloys to make appliances including toasters and electric ovens, as well as boat propeller shafts and turbine blades.
Niobium is used in alloys including stainless steel. It improves strength, particularly at low temperatures. Alloys containing niobium are used in jet engines, rockets, as well as beams in buildings, oil rigs and pipelines.
Most zinc is used to galvanise other metals, such as iron, to prevent rusting. Galvanised steel is used for car bodies, lamp posts and suspension bridges. Zinc oxide is widely used to manufacture paints, rubber, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Magnesium is the lightest of all metals, and can produce high-strength, corrosion-resistant alloys. It is used to create machinery, tools and parts for cars – as well as mobile phones, laptop and tablet computers and cameras.
Manganese is too brittle to be of much use as a pure metal. It is mainly used in alloys, such as steel to increase strength and improve workability and resistance to wear. It can also be used with aluminium, antimony and copper to form highly magnetic alloys.
Iron is used alongside carbon to create steel, the backbone of our industrialised world. Iron can be mixed with other metals to manufacture everything from cars to railways to cans. Today we use twenty times more iron (in the form of steel) than all other metals put together.
Lithium is primarily used in rechargeable batteries for mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras and electric vehicles. It is also used to produce ceramics and high-temperature lubricants. Lithium hydride is used as a means of storing hydrogen for use as a fuel.
Aluminium is the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust and is usually found in minerals such as bauxite and cryolite. It is resistant to corrosion and malleable. Aluminium is used to make everyday products like cans, kitchen utensils, foil, window frames as well as aeroplane parts.
Gold is well known for its use in jewellery but is also important in dentistry, medicine, aerospace and electronics. Most mined gold is stored as bullion and its role in financial systems continues to grow with central banks and exchange traded funds increasing their holdings.
Black coal has a higher energy content than brown coal as it contains more carbon, less ash and less moisture. Black coal is used in electricity generation and in the iron and steel industries. Other industrial uses include cement manufacturing and alumina refining.
Platinum is best known for its use in jewellery. However it is also very effective at converting engine emissions into less harmful waste products. Platinum is also used to make electronics and even chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancers.
Underground potash deposits are formed as a result of evaporated sea beds. The potassium-rich salt is used mainly as fertiliser to improve agricultural production. It is also used in glass manufacturing, oil & gas drilling, aluminium recycling, water softening and fireworks.
Molybdenum has a very high melting point so it is produced and sold as a grey powder. It is used in steel alloys to increase strength, hardness, electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion and wear. It is used in alloys to create engines, heating elements and drills.
Phosphate rock is processed to produce phosphorus, which is one of the three main nutrients most commonly used in fertilisers. It can also be turned into phosphoric acid, which is used in everything from food and cosmetics to animal feed and electronics.
Tantalum can be used to coat other metals with a very thin layer which makes it useful in portable electronics such as mobile phones. It is also safe to use in surgical implants. Tantalum alloys can be extremely strong and have been used for turbine blades and rocket nozzles.
Tungsten has the highest melting point of all metals and is alloyed with other metals to strengthen them. It is used in many heating elements and high-temperature furnaces. It also makes excellent cutting and drilling tools and is widely used in fluorescent lighting.
Antimony is commonly alloyed with other metals such as lead and tin to improve their hardness and strength. Antimony compounds are used to make flame-retardant materials, paints, enamels, glass and pottery.
Cobalt is usually produced as a by-product of copper and nickel mining. It can be alloyed with aluminum and nickel to make very powerful magnets used in wind turbines to create renewable energy. Radioactive cobalt-60 is used to treat cancer.
Potassium can be found in evaporated seas or lakes, rocks and the ashes of plants (potash). The greatest demand for potassium compounds is in fertilisers, but it is also used in detergent, pharmaceuticals and glass manufacturing.
Lead is widely used in car batteries, pigments, ammunition and weights. It is also used to store corrosive liquids, and to protect humans from radiation, for example in televisions and computer screens.
Neodymium is used as an alloy to make very strong permanent magnets which are built into mobile phones, microphones and loudspeakers. These magnets are also used in windscreen wipers and wind turbines. Neodymium glass is used to make lasers used in eye surgery and the treatment of skin cancers.
Silver is well known for its use in jewellery and tableware. It is also used to make mirrors as it is the best known reflector of visible light, although it does tarnish with time. It is also used in dental alloys, electrical contacts and batteries.
Thorium is a naturally occurring, slightly radioactive metal. It is used as an alloying agent in magnesium as it imparts greater strength and resistance at high temperatures. It can be used as a source of nuclear power.
Vanadium is often used as a steel additive in gas and oil pipelines, jet engines as well as reinforcement in building and construction. Vanadium is also used in the production of ceramics and electronics, textile dyes, fertilisers, synthetic rubber, welding, as well as in alloys used in nuclear engineering and superconductors.
Diamonds are made of pure carbon in a crystallised form and are well known for their inclusion in jewellery. As the hardest natural mineral on earth, they are often used in machine tool tips including drills, and fine blades used to slice brittle metals and crystals for use in electronics.
Mineral sands contain concentrations of minerals originally derived from rocks. These minerals have been broken down by natural weathering processes and deposited in beaches, lakes or river environments. They can be found in everyday household products including paints, paper and plastics.
Coal is the product of decaying plant matter over millions of years. It occurs as layers, called coal beds or coal seams that are found between other sedimentary rocks. Most brown coal is used to generate electricity.
Mining provides the resources for modern life, technology and business.