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Quick Facts About Transition Metals


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Quick Facts About Transition Metals

Gold, copper, silver and zinc are some of the metals found in the transition element category. Also known as transition metals because they must contain properties of metals, they are located together in groups three to twelve on the periodic table, shown in yellow on the periodic table to the right. (For a hands-on experience, check out Ptable for a great interactive periodic table.)

Image courtesy of

There are 38 transition metals, all having similar properties; they are very hard and have high melting and boiling points. They are ductile, malleable with high electrical and heat conductivity. The transition elements have positively charged forms or stable oxidation states which allow them to form many different ionic and partially-ionic compounds. They also have low ionization energies.

Interesting Fact: The only elements that can produce a magnetic field are cobalt, nickel and iron.

Of the 38 transitional metals in the periodic table, Australian mines currently produce 10 of them and have ceased production on one more.

Vanadium – this element is only found chemically combined in nature in about 65 different minerals and fossil fuel deposits. Vanadium is produced from the processing of magnetite ores; it is also found in bauxite and is recovered from wastes of oil residue. It is mostly used in metal alloys and as a catalyst for the production of sulphuric acid. Geoscience Australia indicates that Australia has the world's fourth largest resource but it is impossible to establish Australia’s ranking for the production of vanadium.

ManganeseManganese ores are found in metamorphic rocks or sedimentary deposits. Pyrolusite is the main ore mineral for manganese. It is used in applications like metallurgical alloying and plays an important role in the manufacturing of steel as well as having biological uses. Australia produces 14% of the world’s manganese ore and is ranked second behind China.

IronIron ore is extracted from iron ore rocks and minerals and is the fourth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. Iron ore has been used in every single steel product that we use today, and is mostly used to produce pig iron. Western Australia (WA) dominates the Australian iron ore industry with nearly 97% of the total production. Australia produces around 17% of the world's iron ore and is ranked second behind China (39%)

Nickel Nickel occurs in nature principally as oxides, sulphides and silicates. Nickel is considered corrosion-resistant due to its stability in air and slow rate of oxidation, and is therefore used as an alloy with other metals. According to Australian Mines Atlas, Western Australia (WA) remains the largest holder of nickel resources with 90.9% of total Australian EDR. Australia is the world's fourth-largest producer, accounting for 11.6% of estimated world mine production of nickel.

CopperCopper is an electrical and heat conducing metal and is used in electrical equipment such as wiring and motors. It is used in building materials and metal alloys. It is also a vital dietary nutrient. Australia has the second largest world economic resources of copper and is sixth in the world production of copper.

Zinc Zinc is found abundantly in the Earth’s crust and around the world. Pure zinc is a lustrous metal with a bluish white appearance. At room temperature it becomes extremely brittle but when it is heated it becomes malleable, soft and easy to work with. Zinc is mostly used for corrosion protection. Zinc is also an essential mineral needed for optimal health and wellbeing. Australia has the world’s largest economic resources of zinc and ranks third in the production of zinc.

NiobiumNiobium is found worldwide and looks mainly like steel but when polished looks like platinum. Niobium is used in alloys, electronic devices and jewellery as it is totally hypoallergenic. It is a refractory metal which means that the colour you see is purely refracted light. Australia used to be the leading supplierof niobium to the United States. It was recovered as a by-product of tantalum mining but currently there is no more production of niobium in Australia.

Silver – In its pure form silver has high thermal and electric conductivity. It also has the lowest contact resistance of any metal. Silver is mostly used in jewellery, cutlery, and coinage and in ornaments. Silver is mined and produced mainly as a co-product of lead, zinc, copper and, to a lesser extent, gold. Australia has the world’s largest economic resources and is fifth in production.

TantalumTantalum is a relatively rare element and is mostly used in the manufacture of capacitors, as an alloy and in some surgical instruments. It is renowned for its ability to resist chemical attack. Historically, Western Australia was the largest producer of tantalum but currently Brazil is the dominant producer.

TungstenTungsten otherwise known as Wolfram is not found in a pure form in nature but is found in chemical compounds. It is found in wolframite and scheelite ores. Tungsten is a very important metal due to its strength and durability, and is used in industrial and military settings. Australia holds a third of the world’s tungsten reserves and is currently not listed on the production list.

Gold Gold is found naturally in the veins of quartz and other alluvial deposits. It is a rare metallic element that can be found with a combination of other metals or in a free state. Some of its uses include jewellery making, electrical conductivity and medical treatments. The United States Geological Survey estimates Australia has the second largest gold reserve and is the second largest producer.

Complete List Of Transition Metals

  • Bohrium                     
  • Rutherfordium        
  • Cadmium
  • Meitnerium
  • Mercury
  • Seaborgium
  • Molybdenum
  • Copermicium
  • Technetium
  • Darmstadtium
  • Dubnium
  • Palladium
  • Yttrium
  • Hassium
  • Roentgenium
  • Zirconium

Visit our All you need to know section for more important information about the Minerals and the Mining industry.
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