Gold Gold has been treasured for thousands of years for its beauty and permanence. Until recently, most gold was used essentially for its monetary value, ending up in banks and government treasuries. Today, most gold produced is used for jewelry. It also has superior conductivity and resistance to corrosion, making it ideal for use in computers, communications equipment, and aeronautics.
DiamondsĀ  Diamonds were originally formed under immense heat and pressure hundreds of miles below sea level. After 100 million years of formation, volcanic explosions forced them upwards exposing their natural beauty to the world. Diamonds were first mined in India over 4000 years ago and over the last 500 years Diamonds have acquired their unique status as the ultimate gift of love which has grown stronger with each passing year. Today, diamonds are not only mined and sold through the multi-billion dollar retail jewelry trade but are also used in industrial applications. Due to the fact that Diamonds are the hardest substance known to man they are used in modern day industrial applications including saws, grinders and diamond tipped tools to name a few and are also used for diamond drilling in the mining industry because of its ability to cut through rock. There are 50 million carats of diamonds mined every year world wide resulting in a $5 billion per year industry with retail sales of diamonds in the region of US $40 billion per year.
CopperĀ  Most copper is used for electrical applications, with the remainder combined with other metals to produce alloys, such as brass and bronze. Its conductivity makes it ideal for use as telecommunications wire, cable and in electric motors. Its non-corrosive quality accounts for its use in boat and ship building, chemical engineering, brewing and distilling, plumbing and construction. Copper, brass and bronze are also used for jewelry, ornaments and kitchenware, and copper has various uses in powder form.
Cobalt Cobalt is designated by the United States government as a strategic material for the aerospace and defense manufacturing industries. It has many applications, from a vitamin supplement to the manufacturing of aircraft engines. The major market for cobalt is in super alloys, designed to resist stress and corrosion at high temperatures. These alloys can be found in a number of aircraft engine parts as well as cutting tools and other types of machinery that require very high strength and abrasion-resistant materials.

Modern day applications for this versatile mineral include its use on some video tapes, the recording on computer memory discs, dying additives in paints, magnets, portable phones and automobile airbags. Nearly half the bismuth produced worldwide is used in the chemical industry, which includes pharmaceutical, medical, cosmetic, and industrial segments. Bismuth is also used as a metallurgical additive in steel and aluminum. When combined with other metals such as cadmium and tin, bismuth forms low-melting alloys that are used for fire detection and extinguishing systems.
Zinc is necessary to modern living, and, in tonnage produced, stands fourth among all metals in world production – being exceeded only by iron, aluminum, and copper. Zinc uses range from metal products to rubber and medicines. Zinc’s unique properties also allow it to be cast into an array of precision parts for automobiles, airplanes and appliances. About three-fourths of zinc used is consumed as metal, mainly as a coating to protect iron and steel from corrosion (galvanized metal), as alloying metal to make bronze and brass, as zinc-based die casting alloy, and as rolled zinc. The remaining one-fourth is consumed as zinc compounds mainly by the rubber, chemical, paint, and agricultural industries. Zinc is also a necessary element for proper growth and development of humans, animals, and plants; it is the second most common trace metal, after iron, naturally found in the human body.
The principal consumption of lead is for lead-acid batteries that are used in vehicles, and in emergency systems (e.g. hospitals) as well as in industrial batteries. Lead is essential to the production of many highly technical products, from fetal monitors to fiber optics. It plays a vital role in space exploration, energy conservation and telecommunications. Lead-based materials are facilitating the development of hyper fast computers and high definition TV, as well as cathode ray tubes used in viewing screens for television, computers and radar. Because of its high density, capability and availability, lead is an outstanding material for radiation shielding. Major progress in the medical field’s use of radiation for imaging diagnostics such as CAT scans can be directly attributed to the use of sophisticated lead shielding.
Silver is one of the most romantic and sought after precious metals and was one of the earliest metals used to make coins. Although silver is relatively scarce, it is the most plentiful and least expensive of the precious metals. The major silver producing countries are Mexico, Peru, the United States, Australia and Chile. Sources of silver include; silver mined directly, silver mined as a by-product of gold, copper, lead and zinc mining, and silver extracted from recycled materials. Silver has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of any metal. The demand for silver comes primarily from three areas; industrial uses, jewelry and silverware, and photography. These industries represent 95 per cent of annual silver consumption. Silver has a variety of uses in the health industry. For example, silver sulphadiazine is a very powerful compound used to treat burns. Sterling silver, an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, is tougher than pure silver, and is used to make cutlery, serving trays and other ornaments and decorative tableware.