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The Top Producing Countries Of Precious Metals

Precious metals are rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical elements. Most of the precious metals have high investment values and historically they became the standard for monies. Today, rare metals are used in jewellery, art, electronics and scientific industries. The precious metals are: gold, silver, platinum, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium, osmium, iridium, scandium, hafnium and beryllium.

Each precious metal is produced or manufactured in certain countries; some of these countries have both the natural resources and the ability to produce the precious metals. Other countries import the resources before producing them. Below we will expand on the top producing countries for each of the precious metals.

Gold

Gold is a chemical element with a yellow appearance. It is used in jewellery design, in monies, electrical contacts, decoration and in medical uses. Data published by the United States Geological Survey lists the top producing countries for gold are China, Australia, United States, Russia and South Africa.

The actual tonnage produced each year varies so the positions of the countries are always changing. According to China Business News the top performing countries for 2011 are:

China - China has become the world’s number one producer of gold with 345 tonnes of gold produced this year. Unlike many other countries that are declining in gold production as the price of gold rises to catch up with economic value, China is planning on producing even more gold and predicts up to 400 tonnes in gold production for next year.

South Africa - Known historically as a top producer of gold, South Africa’s gold production has actually declined as China has taken the spotlight in production. South Africa has seen an 80% drop in gold production within the last 40 years. Although South Africa’s production has been in decline, it is still historically considered one of the largest gold producers amongst the general population.

Russia - Russia has become slightly more interested in gold purchases as it tries to compete with India and China. Russia plans to purchase large amounts of gold in the upcoming years, although its current production of gold has remained generally unchanged at about 190 tonnes.

The U.S - The production of gold in the U.S is currently well above the averages of many of the top gold producing countries and only slightly below Australia and China each the respective second and top producers of gold in the world. Although the U.S has not produced as much gold as it did in the past, the nation currently produces a healthy 230 tonnes of gold.

Silver

Silver has a grayish-white appearance and is a member of the transition metals group. The demand for silver continues to increase with its applications including soldering, jewellery production, and coverings for cell phones to reduce bacteria, electroplating, mirror production and medical equipment usage.

According to the Silver Institute the top producing countries for silver in 2010 were Mexico, Peru and China.

Picture Source: http://www.silverinstitute.org/production.php

Platinum Group Metals

The platinum group metals are platinum, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium, osmium and iridium and they are usually produced together. The uses of PGM’s include jewellery, computer hard disks, fibreglass, alloys and as catalysts.

The United States Geological Survey lists the top producing countries for platinum group metals as South Africa, Russia, United States, and Canada.




Picture Source: http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/mcs/2011/mcs2011.pdf

Scandium

Scandium is a soft, silvery transition element which occurs in rare minerals from Scandinavia. It has a slightly yellowish or pinkish cast when exposed to air. Uranium mill tailings and thortveitite are the primary sources of scandium. Scandium is used in aluminium alloys for sporting goods, electronics, oil well tracers and in metallurgical research. The top producers of scandium from by-product materials are China, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine.

Hafnium

Hafnium is a ductile metal with a silvery lustrous appeal. It is corrosion resistant. Hafnium has the same atoms as zirconium which makes it hard to separate the two. Hafnium is used as an alloy in superalloys and in control rods for nuclear reactors. The top producers of hafnium are France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Brazil, China, India, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, and the United States.

Beryllium

Beryllium is a hard, grayish metal occurring naturally in soils, rocks, coal, oil and volcanic dust. Beryllium minerals have been known for centuries as the gemstones beryl, emerald and aquamarine. Beryllium is used in metal alloys for aircrafts, in electrical connectors, instruments and nuclear weapons. The largest producers of beryllium are the United States, China and Mozambique.


Picture Source:http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/mcs/2011.pdf

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