Most people know that there are health benefits from certain minerals. In fact, to keep your body functioning, minerals are essential. Magnesium helps convert blood sugar to energy, zinc aids your immune system, and potassium helps keep muscles and your nervous system functioning normally. These and other minerals help in growth and development, and protect your body from illness and disease.
In addition to guarding your health, minerals are also used in military defense and protection of our energy sources.
When it comes to military use, last summer, the National Mining Association published an infographic that included claims that the United States Department of Defense uses up to 750,000 tons of minerals annually in the manufacture of military gear, weapon systems and other defense applications. That number will increase as defense budgets are increased. In fact, during this past spring, the U.S. Department of Defense announced a $160 billion boost in defense spending over two years, reversing years of decline.
In Do Minerals Make Our National Defense Tools Stronger? published in our sister blog, we discussed how after the minerals are mined, they have to be processed, extracted, melted, formed, and manufactured into that defense equipment, which could include new technology like unmanned aerial vehicles and tankers, advanced integrated air defense radar, and space-based systems. Rare earth elements are used in making night-vision goggles, infrared absorbing glass, and camera lenses. Nickel is used in body armor, silver in aircraft, and copper in communication systems.
The World Bank study, The Growing Role of Minerals and Metals for a Low Carbon Future, highlights the critical role that mining and metals will need to play in the global zero carbon transition over this century, with a specific focus on the position and capacity of mineral-resource-rich developing countries to supply these minerals. The study focuses on wind, solar, and energy storage batteries, which play a key role in energy sources offering low/zero Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission levels. Metals which could see a growing market include aluminum (including its key constituent, bauxite), cobalt, copper, iron ore, lead, lithium, nickel, manganese, the platinum group of metals, silver, steel, titanium, zinc, and rare earth metals including cadmium, molybdenum, neodymium, and indium. The report maps production and reserve levels of relevant metals globally, focusing on implications for resource-rich developing countries. It concludes by identifying critical research gaps and suggestions for future work.
To find all these minerals, mining and exploration companies utilize handheld mineral and rare earth element XRF analyzers. XRF (X-ray fluorescence) is a non-destructive analytical technique used to determine the elemental composition of materials. These analyzers provide rapid, on-site qualitative screening directly in-situ or lab-quality quantitative analysis on prepared samples, bypassing the costly and time-consuming process of sending samples to off-site laboratories and waiting days, or even months, for critical data. With rapid sample analysis, you get real-time geochemical data to guide drilling decisions, enable high-productivity operations, and gain a competitive advantage.
So for all those working in mining operations, remember that you are helping to keep us safer.
Read more about minerals and their uses in:
- Do Minerals Make Our National Defense Tools Stronger?
- Will We Run Out of Technology Minerals?
- Minerals Matter