The Earth’s crust contains a wide range of metal concentrations, but not all of them are economically viable for extraction. The economic viability of metal concentrations in the Earth’s crust depends on several factors, including the abundance of the metal, its concentration in ores or minerals, the accessibility and cost of extraction, and the demand and market price for the metal. Here are some examples of economically important metal concentrations in the Earth’s crust:
- Aluminum (Al): Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust, comprising about 8% of the crust by weight. It is widely used in various industrial applications, including transportation, construction, packaging, and electrical transmission. Bauxite, a type of laterite deposit, is the main source of aluminum, with major deposits found in countries like Australia, Guinea, and Brazil.
- Iron (Fe): Iron is a crucial metal used in the production of steel, which is used in infrastructure, machinery, and many other applications. Iron is abundant in the Earth’s crust, comprising about 5% of the crust by weight. Iron ore deposits are found in various forms, including hematite, magnetite, and taconite, with major deposits found in countries like Australia, Brazil, and China.
- Copper (Cu): Copper is an essential metal used in various industries, including electrical wiring, plumbing, and electronics. Copper deposits can be found in a variety of geological settings, including porphyry deposits, sedimentary deposits, and volcanic-hosted massive sulfide deposits. Major copper deposits are found in countries like Chile, Peru, and the United States.
- Gold (Au): Gold is a precious metal used in jewelry, electronics, and investment, and has been valued for its rarity and beauty for thousands of years. Gold deposits can occur in a variety of forms, including placer deposits, lode deposits, and epithermal deposits. Major gold-producing countries include China, Australia, and Russia.
- Nickel (Ni): Nickel is a key metal used in the production of stainless steel, batteries, and other industrial applications. Nickel deposits can be found in various geological settings, including laterite deposits, sulfide deposits, and magmatic deposits. Major nickel deposits are found in countries like Indonesia, Russia, and Canada.
- Zinc (Zn): Zinc is an important metal used in the production of galvanized steel, batteries, and other applications. Zinc deposits are typically found in sedimentary-hosted deposits, such as carbonate-hosted deposits and Mississippi Valley-type (MVT) deposits. Major zinc-producing countries include China, Australia, and Peru.
- Lead (Pb): Lead is a versatile metal used in batteries, bullets, and other applications. Lead deposits are typically associated with zinc deposits and can be found in sedimentary-hosted deposits, such as MVT deposits and sedimentary exhalative (SEDEX) deposits. Major lead-producing countries include China, Australia, and the United States.
- Tin (Sn): Tin is used in various applications, including electronics, packaging, and soldering. Tin deposits can occur in a variety of forms, including placer deposits, cassiterite-rich veins, and greisen deposits. Major tin-producing countries include China, Indonesia, and Myanmar.
These are just some examples of economically important metal concentrations in the Earth’s crust. There are many other metals and minerals that are economically valuable and used in a wide range of applications, depending on their availability, concentration, and demand in the global market. The extraction and utilization of these metal resources require careful consideration of economic, environmental, and social factors to ensure sustainable resource management.
- Aluminum (8.13%)
- Iron (5.00%)
- Calcium (3.63%)
- Sodium (2.83%)
- Potassium (2.59%)
- Magnesium (2.09%)
- Titanium (0.57%)
- Hydrogen (0.14%)
- Manganese (0.10%)
- Phosphorus (0.10%)
Other metals that are economically important include copper, gold, silver, lead, zinc, nickel, and platinum, among others. The concentration of these metals in the Earth’s crust is much lower than the most common metals, with copper being the most abundant at 0.0068%, followed by lead at 0.0013%, zinc at 0.0075%, and nickel at 0.0081%.
Here are some typical background and ore levels of several important metals:
- Background levels: 10-50 ppm
- Ore levels: 0.5-5% Cu
- Background levels: 0.0005-0.5 ppm
- Ore levels: 1-20 g/t Au
- Background levels: 0.01-1 ppm
- Ore levels: 50-800 g/t Ag
- Background levels: 10-50 ppm
- Ore levels: 3-10% Pb
- Background levels: 10-150 ppm
- Ore levels: 3-15% Zn
- Background levels: 50-200 ppm
- Ore levels: 0.5-3% Ni
It’s important to note that these levels can vary widely depending on the deposit and location.
Most valuable metal in Earth Crust
The most valuable metal in the Earth’s crust can vary depending on a number of factors such as current market demand, availability, and the cost of extraction. Precious metals, such as gold, platinum, and silver, have historically been highly valued due to their scarcity and unique properties, and are often associated with luxury items and financial instruments. Other metals, such as copper, nickel, and iron, are highly valued for their usefulness in industry and infrastructure, and are considered to be more economically important. However, it’s worth noting that the value of a metal depends not only on its physical properties, but also on the societal, cultural, and economic factors that influence its perceived value.
In terms of the most valuable metal by market price, the answer can vary over time depending on a number of factors, such as supply and demand, geopolitical events, and technological advances. However, historically, some of the most valuable metals in the Earth’s crust have included precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum, as well as rare earth metals like neodymium, yttrium, and cerium. These metals are used in a wide range of applications, including electronics, jewelry, and industrial processes, among others.
It’s worth noting that the value of a metal depends not only on its price but also on its availability, which is influenced by a number of geological, economic, and political factors. For example, a metal may have a high market price, but if it is only found in small quantities or in hard-to-reach locations, its actual value may be limited. Additionally, factors such as production costs, energy requirements, and environmental impact can all affect the overall economic viability of extracting and using a particular metal.
The percentage of valuable metals in the Earth’s crust varies widely, depending on the metal in question. Here are a few examples of the abundance of some valuable metals in the Earth’s crust:
- Aluminum: 8.1%
- Copper: 0.0068%
- Gold: 0.000004 ppm (parts per million)
- Iron: 5.6%
- Lead: 0.0013%
- Platinum: 0.000005 ppm
- Silver: 0.000075%
- Uranium: 0.00015%
- Zinc: 0.0075%
It’s important to note that these figures represent the average abundance of these metals across the entire Earth’s crust, and the actual concentrations can vary widely in different regions and deposits.
Consider Canada, one of the world’s largest manufacturers. Canada has the largest mining regions in the world and has been one of the biggest suppliers for the last 150 years.
Canada earns a lot of income in Canada’s mining industry. Most of these are significant amounts of gold, iron, copper and potash, which are less important than nickel and diamond, but with less amounts. Revenues from the oil sector are higher than $ 100 billion annually.
A metal deposition is a rock mass in which one or more metals are concentrated to the point where it is economically suitable for recovery. Some background levels of important metals in average rocks are shown in the Table with typical grades required to form a suitable residue and their corresponding concentration factors. For example, when we look at the copper, we see that although the average rock is about 40 ppm (parts per million) of copper, about 10,000 ppm or 1% is required to obtain a suitable copper residue. In other words, copper ore contains 250 times as much copper as the typical rocks. The concentration factors for other elements in the list are much higher. 2,000 for gold and 10,000 for silver.
Typical background and ore levels of some important metals
|Metal||Typical Background Level||Typical Economic Grade*||Concentration Factor|
|Copper||40 ppm||10,000 ppm (1%)||250 times|
|Gold||0.003 ppm||6 ppm (0.006%)||2,000 times|
|Lead||10 ppm||50,000 ppm (5%||5,000 times|
|Molybdenum||1 ppm||1,000 ppm (0.1%)||1,000 times|
|Nickel||25 ppm||20,000 ppm (2%)||800 times|
|Silver||0.1 ppm||1,000 ppm (0.1%)||10,000 times|
|Uranium||2 ppm||10,000 ppm (1%)||5,000 times|
|Zinc||50 ppm||50,000 ppm (5%)||1,000 times|
It is clear that some very important concentrations need to occur in order to create a precious residue. This concentration may occur during the formation of the host rock or after rock formation by several different types of processes. There are a wide variety of ore forming processes and hundreds of mineral deposits