Some of the metals that are forecast to be in the highest demand in the future for electronics and technology are tin, lithium, cobalt, silver, nickel, gold, tungsten, vanadium, graphite, niobium, zinc, PGM (platinum group of metals) and salt (for autonomous and electric vehicles, advanced robotics, renewable energy, advanced computing and IT, and so on). (See Better Meets Reality)
We have billions of items which have been used and discarded over the past hundred years which have not been fully recycled. This should be our first priority: recycle metals from existing discarded products and create another industry which helps meet demand for these metals.
But investors put their money in taking from the exhausted Earth and trading in metals is an old trade.
The History of Mining is described here:
The earliest known mine for a specific mineral is coal from southern Africa, appearing worked 40,000 to 20,000 years ago. But, mining did not become a significant industry until more advanced civilizations developed 10,000 to 7,000 years ago. In early times, the only metals available were those found in a metallic state in nature. The most abundant was copper. But, gold, silver, and mercury were also found and prized. The application of fire to mined materials became a technological breakthrough and proved to be one of the critical advancements of civilization. In fact, excavated elements transformed themselves by the application of heat. As a result, pottery hardened to last more than a season. Especially relevant, metals could be melted and formed into objects.
Present day uses:
Metals that might be classified as technology type metals are generally used in:
The mass production of miniaturized electronics and associated devices;
Advanced weapons systems and platforms for national defense;
The generation of electricity using ‘alternative’ sources such as solar panels and wind turbines;
The storage of electricity using cells and batteries.
In terms of wind, solar and energy storage batteries … metals which could see a growing market include aluminum (including its key constituent, bauxite), cobalt, copper, iron ore, lead, lithium, nickel, manganese, the platinum group of metals, silver, steel, titanium, zinc, and rare earth metals including cadmium, molybdenum, neodymium, and indium.
At Wikipedia we can see the list of countries involved in mining metals.
Here are some images of the battle scarred environments as we pat ourselves on the back for humanity enabling such a ‘civilised’ existence.
China is the lead producer of Aluminium,
China also leads in production of Bismuth, Gold, Mercury, Mica, Tin, Titanium and Zinc.
Australia leads in mining Bauxite,
Bauxite flouride is mined and used as an ingredient for aluminium.
Australia also leads in mining Iron Ore
Chile leads in Copper
South Africa leads in Chromium, Manganese
Indonesia leads in Nickel
Brazil leads in Niobium
Russia leads in Palladium
Mexico leads in Silver