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2.8 Billion Tonnes of Metals Extracted Globally in 2022

  • Iron ore constituted 93% of total metals mined, emphasizing its crucial role in steel production.
  • Industrial metals like copper and aluminum made up 6.6% of the total, with China leading in aluminum production.
  • Technology and precious metals, though less in quantity, are gaining importance due to their applications in clean energy and electronics.

In 2022, 2.8 billion tonnes of metals were mined throughout the world - while major industries that directly consume processed mineral materials contribute 14% of the US economy.

As Visual Capitalist's Bruno Venditti details below, here's each metal's contribution to the total:


More via Visual Capitalist:

Iron Ore Dominance

Iron ore dominates the metals mining landscape, comprising 93% of the total mined. In 2022, 2.6 billion tonnes of iron ore were mined, containing about 1.6 billion tonnes of iron.

Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Iron ores are found in various geologic environments, such as igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary rocks, and can contain over 70% iron, with many falling in the 50-60% range.

Combined with other materials like coke and limestone, iron ore is primarily used in steel production. Today, almost all (98%) iron ore is dedicated to steelmaking.

The ore is typically mined in about 50 countries, but Australia, Brazil, China, and India are responsible for 75% of the production.

Because of its essential role in infrastructure development, iron ore is one of the most crucial materials underpinning urbanization and economic growth.

Industrial Metals

Industrial metals occupy the second position on our list, constituting 6.6% of all metals mined in 2022. These metals, including copper, aluminum, lead, and zinc, are employed in construction and industrial applications.

Aluminum constituted nearly 40% of industrial metal production in 2022. China was responsible for 56% of all aluminum produced.

In the second position is chromium, which plays a primary role in rendering stainless steel corrosion-resistant. South Africa led chromium production, accounting for 44% of the total mined last year.

Technology and Precious Metals

Despite representing less than 1% of all the metals mined, technology metals have been on the news over the last few years as countries and companies seek these materials to reduce carbon emissions and improve productivity.


They include lithium and cobalt, used in electric vehicles and battery storage, and rare earths, used in magnets, metal alloys, and electronics. Many of them are considered critical for countries’ security due to their role in clean energy technologies and dependency on other nations to supply domestic demand.

However, despite increasing interest in these metals, they are still behind precious metals such as gold and silver regarding market size.

The gold market, for example, reached $196 billion in 2022, compared to $10.6 billion of the rare earth market.

By Zerophedge.com 

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on November 20 2023 said:
    Mining 2.8 billion tons of iron ore and other metals in 2022 must have produced highly significant volumes of emissions.

    Yet environmental activists, the EU Secretariat and the IEA never called for a reduction in their production or even keeping them underground. The reason is that without metals, the global economy goes back to the Stone Age.

    But the environmental lobby, the IEA and the EU Secretariat have never stopped calling for a reduction in fossil fuels production, halting investments in them and even keeping them underground because of their emissions.yet without fossil fuels the global economy will collapse wit disastrous consequences for humanity.

    If there is a notable case of double standards. This is the one.

    Western green policies have some merit in trying to reduce global emissions but there is a sinister side to them like when Western countries urge the continent of Africa to keep its vast oil and gas reserves underground and focus on reducing emissions probably for Wester countries’ use at a later date.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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