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Some of the important natural elements used in technology

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Light emitting diodes (LED), electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines depend on elements mined in countries such as Morocco, Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa,  Canada, USA, Cuba, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Germany, Finland, Belgium, Russia, China, India, South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, New Caledonia, Australia and others yet to discover .

These elements are traded in small quantities. Nevertheless, there is expected growth in demand for these elements proportional to the growth of technology. The elements are Lithium, Cobalt, Germanium, Selenium, Platinum Group, Indium and rare earths. These materials are actually hard to come by and expensive to refine. For instance the battery in a laptop is made with Lithium element.

Wind- power industry makes use of rare-earth material neodymium which is an important ingredient in the high- strength magnets used in the wind turbines. The expansion of the wind-power industry will put pressure on the element neodymium but there are projections of 16 percent growth by 2014 with China controlling 97% of the global production of rare- earth elements.  The use of electric cars or vehicles will increase if the demand for lithium is quadrupled. Solar cells and flat- panel displays make use of indium element which is in demand. The global productions of elements from 1970- 2010 in metric tons have been summarized as reported by U.S Geological Survey, Johnson Matthey, and British Geological survey.

Lithium production: 405,000

Rare earths production: 13,000

Cobalt production: 88,000

Germanium production: 120

Selenium production: 2,260

Platinum group production: 445

Indium production: 574

Joshua Anquandah
Email: joshua@christianeventghana.com

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