operation oaxaca: mination.

mining nations for minerals (025)

Carlos Manuel Jarquín Sánchez
6 min readMar 8, 2024

this is carlos.

we got accepted for our lab request!!


now, we need to keep moving.

eyes are on me.

and i have a village to make proud of.

time to see where the minerals are being extracted from.


the data.

note: i will be posting just the data points, i’ll add the page number where the data is found. links are included too.


for bauxite (a key metal required for aluminum production), developing countries, excluding china, account for 30% of bauxite production, but 63% of global reserves. (page 26)

guinea accounts for 6.5% of global production, but 26% of known reserves.

the survey estimates that 94% of the world’s bauxite is found in developing country regions. (page 26)


bolivia is listed as having no accessible reserves but is estimated to have some 9 million tons embedded in its geological formations.

and only zimbabwe is listed with relatively small reserves, but the democratic republic of congo (drc) is estimated to have 1 million tons of resources. (page 27)


it’s estimated that africa has ~32% of the globe’s reserves. but the u.s. geological survey estimates that south africa alone contains 75% of manganese resources worldwide. (page 27)

rare earth metals.

surprising, but only china, india, brazil, and malaysia have recorded production, reserve, or resource data for these rare earth elements.

yet, there are reasons for this.

a big one is that we haven’t tried mapping where they’re located.

the reality is that many of these elements are “secondary” minerals embedded in base metals, such as zinc (primarily). [page 27]

and in oceania, eyes are looking towards their nickel ore reserves in new caledonia. [page 27]

the following is the amount extracted from the potential countries that are suitable for the minerals needed… for a low-carbon energy future.

page 29, from us geological survey (2016)

global resources are between 55 billion — 75 billion tons. it’s sufficient to meet world demand for metal well into the future.

in case we need to substitute metals, we can use:

  • magnesium, steel, & titanium can substitute for aluminum in ground transportation & structural uses.
  • composites, steel, vinyl, & wood can substitute for aluminum in construction.
  • copper can replace aluminum in electrical & heat-exchange applications.

bauxite (aluminum).

page 31, from us geological survey (2016)

developing countries’ percentage of bauxite production: 52%; without china, 30%.

developing countries’ percentage of bauxite reserves: 65%; and without china, 63%.

the bauxite resources are between 55 billion — 75 billion tons: africa (32%), oceania (23%), south america & the caribbean (21%), asia (18 %), & elsewhere (6%).

but bauxite is the only raw material commercially available for alumina production in the world.


page 37, from us geological survey (2016)

developing countries’ percentage of copper production: 57%; without china, 47%.

developing countries’ percentage of copper reserves: 50%; without china, 46%.

global assessment of copper deposits indicated that identified resources contain about 2.1 billion tons of copper (porphyry deposits accounted for 1.8 billion tons of those resources).

undiscovered resources contained an estimated 3.5 billion tons.

from a 2014 us geological survey

copper is a material that is critical to our economies. it’s needed in everything.

but some decent substitutes for the materials include:

  • aluminum substitutes for copper in power cables, electrical equipment, automobile radiators, and cooling and refrigeration tubing.
  • titanium and steel are used in heat exchangers.
  • optical fiber substitutes for copper in telecommunications applications.
  • plastics substitute for copper in water pipes, drain pipes, and plumbing fixtures.

iron and steel.

page 39, from us geological survey (2016)

developing countries’ percentage of pig iron production: 67%; without china, 7%.

developing countries’ percentage of raw steel production: 57%; without china, 7%.

world resources were not calculated. not enough information.

as for substitutes, iron is the least expensive and most widely used metal.

iron and steel compete either with less expensive nonmetallic materials or with more expensive materials that have a performance advantage.

iron and steel compete with lighter materials like:

  • aluminum
  • plastics

and in the motor vehicle industry:

  • aluminum
  • concrete
  • wood

and in construction:

  • aluminum,
  • glass
  • paper
  • plastics in containers.


page 48, from us geological survey (2016)

developing countries’ percentage of nickel production: 29%; without china, 25%.

developing countries’ percentage of nickel reserves: 37%; without china, 34%.

the world resources for nickel are identified as land-based resources averaging 1% nickel or greater contain at least 130 million tons of nickel, with ~60% in laterites & 40% in sulfide deposits.

extensive nickel resources also are found in manganese crusts and nodules on the ocean floor.

the decline in the discovery of new sulfide deposits in traditional mining districts has led to exploration in more challenging locations such as east-central africa and the subarctic.

nickel substitutes include:

in construction:

  • low-nickel
  • duplex
  • ultrahigh-chromium stainless steels.

nickel-free specialty steels are sometimes used in place of stainless steel in the power-generating and petrochemical industries.

titanium alloys can substitute for nickel metal or nickel-base alloys in corrosive chemical environments.

lithium-ion batteries instead of nickel-metal hydride may be used in certain applications.

rare earth elements (minerals).

page 50, from us geological survey (2016)

developing countries’ percentage of rare earth production: 86%; without china, 2%.

developing countries’ percentage of rare earth reserves: 62%; without china, 19%.

rare earths are relatively abundant in the earth’s crust, but discovered minable concentrations are less common than for most other ores.

world resources are contained primarily in bastnäsite and monazite.

bastnäsite deposits in china and the united states constitute the largest percentage of the world’s rare earth economic resources.

monazite deposits constitute the second largest segment.

there are no effective and economical substitutes.

so…. ye, china got a good chokehold on the world.

iron ore.

page 41, from us geological survey (2016)

developing countries’ percentage of iron ore production: 62.5%; without china, 21%.

developing countries’ percentage of crude ore reserves: 32%; without china, 20%.

developing countries’ percentage of iron content reserves: 32%; without china, 23%.

world resources are estimated to be more than 800 billion tons of crude iron ore containing more than 230 billion tons of iron.

and guess what?

the only source of primary iron is iron ore.

good luck with that lol.


page 42, from us geological survey (2016)

developing countries’ percentage of lead production: 71%; without china, 14%.

developing countries’ percentage of lead reserves: 66%; without china, 47%.

lead resources total more than 2 billion tons.

in recent years, significant lead resources have been identified in association with zinc, silver, or copper deposits in:

  • australia
  • china
  • ireland
  • mexico
  • peru
  • portugal
  • russia
  • united states (alaska).

for applicable substitutions in real life…

plastics have reduced the use of lead in cable covering and cans.

tin has replaced lead in solder for potable water systems.


page 56, from us geological survey (2016)

developing countries’ percentage of zinc production: 59%; without china, 22%.

developing countries’ percentage of zinc reserves: 41%; without china, 22%.

zinc resources in the world are about 1.9 billion metric tons.

as for substitutes:

aluminum and plastics substitute for:

  • galvanized sheet in automobiles & aluminum alloy
  • cadmium
  • paint

plastic coatings replace zinc coatings in other applications.

aluminum & magnesium-based alloys are major competitors for zinc-based dye-casting alloys.

this is the one that describes the scenario of the need for metals and minerals in our near future.

now, we will turn our attention back to the chemistry for a little bit.

our first wet-lab session is very soon.


credit to them.

© 2024–2100 by Carlos Manuel Jarquín Sánchez. All Rights Reserved.