Photo: Iridium pellet, cost $5,000.00 per ounce on January 26, 2024
Iridium is a volatile and rare mineral found in only a few places on earth. The conditions must be perfect to contain and develop it. It’s highly sought after, mostly due to its remarkable capacity to contain heat. That ability makes it desirable for rocket parts and jet engines and so much more. Iridium is a key part of those massive data lines running across the oceans. The importance of this mineral as our technological prowess grows is immeasurable. It’s not hard to imagine that fights for control of the mineral are on-going.
Cobalt is the word on everybody’s tongue these days. It’s a multitalented, multifaceted metal that is used to make long-lasting batteries ,high heat metal alloys, permanent magnets, and so much more! It’s even part of the natural gas refining process. It’s found in several places in the world, but exports are concentrated in one area.
A more uncommon but commonly known mineral is gold. This pretty bit of grit is as talented as the other minerals mentioned above. One of the reasons it’s so popular today is because of the development of industrial uses. Gold resists corrosion and is an impressive electrical conductor, which makes it highly useful in technological concepts. It’s a noble metal, meaning it doesn’t react with most other chemical compounds. Its potential for other industrial uses seems to grow with every advancement we make.
Diamonds are used in so many other facets of our lives. They have the highest thermal conductivity of any natural element and are the hardest of all the minerals on earth. Diamonds are formed more than 200 miles underground. We find them because some time in their history volcanic eruptions brought them up close to the surface. Those extremes make them perfect for use in high heat and high pressure industrial processes. We also use them to cut tools and as abrasives.
These fascinating minerals are and have been the sources of some of the most atrocious conflicts our planet has witnessed. Haiti is the second largest source of iridium on the planet. The destabilization of the country is ongoing. The largest source of iridium is South Africa. It is also one of the most prolific exporters of diamonds to this day. Diamond mining is incredibly destructive to the native landscape, visibly disfiguring the land beyond repair. More than half the cobalt in the world that powers our phones and electric cars is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gold and petroleum are Sudan’s claim to fame.
All of these countries remain in a state of upheaval and even more are at war for the gifts the earth creates naturally. We may feel far removed from wars and genocide, but we are all benefiting in some way. It is our duty to keep looking for a better way forward. Keep our families across the world in your hearts.
Photo: by Alchemist-hp, Wikimedia Commons